AEF Educational Initiatives 2010 Q+A

These initiatives are exciting.  How did AEF decide what to fund?

The selection process has taken nearly six months of extensive, inclusive and effective research.   This included conducting surveys of and/or having conversations with stakeholder groups including teachers, Amherst-Pelham Education Association leadership, school principals, district administrators, school committee and parent council leadership, as well as with an expert in emerging priorities and innovations in K-12 education today.  AEF Board members also considered AEF's strategic goals in making final decisions about funded initiatives.

What are AEF’s Funding Criteria?

They can be found here. 

When are the AEF-funded initiatives going to happen?

ARPS has already held the first of four planned events  related to differentiated instruction.  This includes expert-led workshops for the entire ARPS district staff .  Plans for AEF-funded initiatives (Vertical Curriculum Alignment,Differentiated Instruction Professional Learning Communities and the Summer Institute), which will bridge these four discrete events, are already underway.  AEF is working with district administrators to establish a specific timeline beginning this spring and continuing through the summer. Wee expect the benefit of AEF’s initiatives to continue far beyond this school year.

What is Differentiated Instruction and how AEF will support it?

Differentiated Instruction (DI) is a widely recognized instructional approach that provides students with different avenues for learning based on their readiness, interest and learner profile.  Teachers trained in DI deliver the ARPS curriculum, but vary how they  teach and what the students create to meet the needs of every child in the classroom.

AEF is excited to provide funding for Differentiated Instruction support in two specific areas; Professional Learning Communities (PLC's) and a Summer Institute.  PLC's are inter-teacher collaborative groups where teachers share "best practices" and learn primarily from each other..  Through the PLC's,  four  Differentiated Instruction coaches will be created in each of the Amherst Elementary, Pelham Elementary, Middle and High Schools, providing all teachers access to resources and expertise.  In addition, a Summer Institute will be available to all elementary teachers across the district to give them the time and resources needed to plan for the individual needs of each student entering their classroom that fall. The Summer Institute will also be an opportunity for teams to build collaborative relationships before the school year beings.

Can you tell me more about Vertical Curriculum Alignment?

Vertical Curriculum Alignment will bring 6th - 12th grade teachers ttogether over the summer to plan and develop more consistent curriculum and instruction from grade to grade in Math, English Language Arts and Science. This will providesmoother transitions and more consistent instruction from one grade to the next. .  High School Department Heads and Middle School Curriculum Leaders will facilitate the work sessions.  Vertical Curriculum Alignment was identified as a priority by district administrators in recent discussions and in feedback from teacher and parent surveys. 

Will AEF monitor the success of these initiatives?

With help from the U-Mass School of Education, we are developing evaluation plans for each initiative. We also will partner with the ARPS Superintendent and Director of Curriculum to ensure continued commitment to the initiatives, and evaluation of the results. 

How will this benefit my child/children?

This package of educational initiatives will benefit all children in the Amherst and Pelham Elementary Schools, Amherst Regional Middle and High Schools.  By developing deep and practical knowledge about Differentiated Instruction among all teachers, while vertically aligning curriculum in Math, Science and English Language Arts from grade six through twelve, AEF is supporting excellence in both curriculum and instruction.

How is this different from what AEF has funded in the past?

As a result of AEF’s new strategic plan, the decision was made to fund projects that support district-wide learning initiatives, emphasize the district's core educational mission, foster teacher excellence, are sustainable, and have the potential for long-term impact and/or replication.  Ultimately these initiatives will help to maximize the learning potential of every student in the district.

How does AEF raise money to support their initiatives?

The money comes from YOU!  Financial support from parents, community members, teachers, parents of alumni, and our local business community is the engine behind these initiatives.  We couldn't do it without you!  Each year, hundreds of people invest in AEF so that the Foundation is able to fund meaningful projects and programs vital to the success of our teachers and students.  In order to fully fund our initiatives this year, two donors have pledged to contribute $5,000 if AEF raises $10,000 before March 15, 2010.  Help us reach this goal and strengthen our schools by making a gift today - thank you!