2013-2014 Excellence Grants

AEF is proud to announce our 2013 Excellence Grants, which were presented at our fantastic grants event at the Nacul Center on April 3rd. Congratulations to all the recipients for their terrific proposals! Our schools, our kids and our community will be better for your efforts!


Welcome to High School!
Systemic Academic Support for Incoming High School Students - $20,000
Grantee: Mark Jackson, Principal, Amherst Regional High School
What is It? This grant will enable our high school to implement a consistent set of practices to support academic success for all incoming 9th-graders.
What Does the Grant Fund? The grant will fund teacher work sessions during the summer and the school year to implement a common set of support practices in three areas: (1) reading complex texts, (2) planning and managing workload (“executive function”), and (3) providing effective feedback in a diverse context
The Take-Away: With a common set of supports for all incoming 9th-graders, our high school can maintain high expectations while giving all students the tools they need to meet them.


Robotics is Elementary - $13,800
Grantee: Kathryn Runyan, Instructional Technology Teacher, Wildwood Elementary School, and colleagues in Leverett and Shutesbury
What is It? This grant will purchase Lego NXT Mindstorm kits and site licenses for all six elementary schools in Amherst, Pelham, Leverett, and Shutesbury. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the engineering process, programming, and teamwork.
What Does the Grant Fund? Sixth-grade teachers in each school will receive kits and training to extend learning through hands-on projects tied to the Massachusetts science and technology/engineering standards. They will also develop Lego Robotics Recess Clubs for additional, in-school access.
The Take-Away: AEF is putting LEGO robotics technology in the hands of all 6th-grade teachers and students, to learn science and engineering in a fun, hands-on way.

Family University - $4,000
Grantee: Marta Guevara, APRS Director of Student Achievement and Accountability
What Is It? This grant will support a series of monthly family-engagement discussions for approximately 65 Spanish-speaking, immigrant families who are newcomers to our K-12 school districts, based on a model by Harvard researchers Karen Mapp and Ronald Ferguson.
What Does the Grant Fund? The Family University series will consist of six community-based sessions on topics such as what children are learning in schools, parent/guardian advocacy, and parenting skills. The series will be offered twice during the school year – once during the day and once during the evening, to accommodate different schedules. AEF funds will support participant meals and logistical costs, while the district will support staffing.
The Take-Away: This program reaches into the community to welcome some of our most vulnerable families as engaged participants in their children’s schools.



Photosynthesis in Action - $11,225
Grantees: James Fownes & Nicholas Shaw, ARHS Science Teachers
What Is It? This grant will purchase new technology for high school science classes (Labquest 2 handheld data interfaces, sensors, biochambers, and charging stations) that will enable students to visualize, measure, and graph photosynthesis in real time.
What Does the Grant Fund? With this new, hands-on technology, all students will be able to see, measure, and understand this fundamental biological process. Lab exercises using this technology will be built into the required Ecology and Environmental Science curriculum; the equipment will be used in subsequent biology classes as well.

The Take-Away: AEF is supporting cutting-edge technology for our high school students, making science more hands-on, more real, and more fun.