An example of innovative classroom furniture in another school district

The Pelham Education Foundation announced a $250,000 innovative and flexible furniture grant to the Pelham School District, culminating a banner year for the PEF which underwrote a total of 14 grants totaling $424,128.

The Innovative Classroom grant, the largest ever awarded to the District by the PEF, will allow flexible furniture be installed in elementary and middle school libraries as well as innovative furnishings in select classrooms, expanding the pilot program that has already begun.

"We discovered ways that flexible learning environments in common spaces and classrooms across the district will engage and empower student centered learning experience.," said Dr. Steven Garcia, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel . "Static traditional desks and classrooms focus learners on the teacher. Greater flexibility for movement fosters an environment which supports students as co-designers, collaborators, and creators, while easily shifting to areas for both sharing and personalization. Likewise, movement spurs neurochemical processes, including those that promote concentration and enhance attention."

The Innovative Classroom grant is the result of countless hours of research and study by the District's K-12 Innovation Committee, chaired by Dr. Garcia, and the analysis and subsequent proposal included educational research, regional site visits to other districts.

"We are so grateful to the entire Pelham community and the PEF for their incredible generosity in supporting and awarding these grants and for everything they have done for our schools over so many years," said Dr. Cheryl Champ, Superintendent of Schools.

"Our approach to delivering instruction is constantly evolving and so, too, are the classroom furnishings that are used in support of these efforts," Dr. Champ said. "The Innovative Classrooms grant will support our efforts to foster a deeper level of engagement by our students, assist them in developing even greater communication and collaboration skills, and allow our teachers to better deliver individualized and personal instruction. I would like to thank Dr. Garcia, as well as Dr. Maria Thompson, Director of Humanities, Dr. Thomas Callahan, Director of Math and Science, John Sebalos, Director of Technology and the entire K-12 Innovation Committee for their incredible leadership during this process."

The Innovative Classroom grant is just one of the 14 grants totaling more than $400,000 awarded to the District this year. The PEF's support has been instrumental in augmenting the school district's curriculum across all grade levels and subject areas. Examples of grants awarded this school year are:

• Providing Willy Healy, a Julliard-trained composer and pianist (as well as Pelham elementary and middle school graduate) to work with the PMHS chorus

• Bringing jazz musician Sean Nowell to teach improvisation to jazz band students in the middle and high schools

• Supporting the 7th grade science and art curriculum by bringing in local artist Jackie Meier, who spoke about incorporating science principles into her art work

• Sponsoring the District-wide spelling bee

• Helping K-5 students build empathy and raise awareness through the Building Bridges program at Colonial School

• Purchasing grade-level robotics sets K-12, helping to introduce students to coding and developing problem-solving skills

• Supporting the preservation of Pelham Public Schools history through grant to create a searchable digital archive of critical Pelham Public Schools and town historical documents and engaging students in creating oral histories

"The 2018-19 year was truly a remarkable year for the PEF," said Bob Tracy, president of the Pelham Education Foundation. "Due to the overwhelming generosity of the Pelham community, we were able to improve education for students at every level in all six of our schools. We believe that these grants in the arts, sciences, and humanities, will have an immediate positive impact on the education of Pelham's students.

"We are especially pleased to support the pilot of the Innovative Classroom program and hope it will be the first step in further modernizing our district's learning spaces," he added.

About the Pelham Education Foundation

The Pelham Education Foundation seeks to enhance the quality of public education in Pelham with the help of parents, students, educators, alumni, businesses and foundations. It funds educational programs that are outside the annual school budget and award grants for projects that:

• Develop and promote innovative programs

• Strengthen and enrich curriculum

• Support additional faculty training and resources

• Provide funding for special school facilities and equipment

PEF recently completed it annual fundraising campaign; donors received blue ribbons displayed in front of their homes. Donations are still being collected at the PEF website at

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