BEST supports the long-term needs of the Boxford elementary schools by funding grants for innovative teaching techniques, tools, professional development or teaching strategies that create substantive positive improvement in our schools.  Past grant awards summarized by the grant cycle are as follows:

  • Sphero – The Coding Hero – Samantha Kosakowski and Jen Sirmaian, the digital learning coordinator and the learning experience designer at Spofford Pond School, recognize that the students enjoy learning with robots but that the current Lego robots are limiting in their ability to engage students at each grade level. They have asked for a Sphero Bolt Power Pack and a Sphero robot which comes with a Sphero Code Mat.  The Sphero education pack includes coding activities and challenges that can be modified to any subject area.  Samantha and Jen will educate the teachers on how to use the Sphero robots. Teachers will be able to check out the set to use in their classrooms.
  • Printing in STEAM – Dr. Joyce Rains, STEAM teacher at Spofford Pond School, has requested a Sketch Classroom bundle, MakerBot Sketch filament 5 pack and MakerCare Extended service plan for 3 years. This bundle includes two MakerBot Sketch 3D printers.
  • Flex Desks – Jessica Fuller, kindergarten teacher at Cole School, has returned to BEST to request additional flexible furnishings for her classroom. Jessica says the children love the new flexible seating options BEST granted her classroom in the Spring.  She wants to continue to meet the needs of her students and has requested four Ergo Bounce Chair and Desk sets. These sets will give Jessica the ability to provide both independent and group workstations.
  • PBIS Rollout Year 2 – Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) is a grant brought forth to us by Dr. Kathryn Castonguay, Principal of Spofford Pond School. This grant is a continuation of a three-year-long project at both Cole and Spofford schools. The objective is to train school staff through professional development, in district-wide systems of behavioral supports and interventions to improve school climate for all students and reduce disruptive behaviors by providing consistent language for all students and faculty to address behavior, something not currently in place across the buildings.
  • Project Adventure Middle School PE Pack– Funds awarded to Vanessa Boyle to purchase pack materials to  to bring the Project Adventure concepts taught to our 6th graders at Project Adventure back to our school environment.  The Pack contains equipment for 15-25 students at a time and includes 44 different lesson plans.  BEST supports this initiative and loves the idea of extending student learning back to Spofford Pond.
  • Innovative Learning Environment – Funds awarded to Haley Osowski, in conjunction with her other 6th grade team members at Spofford Pond School, to purchase 3 White board Flip tables that can be used to jot down and share ideas while learning and then flipped to display and share out with others.  Ms. Sierpina has a set of these tables and has reported them to be a very useful classroom tool.  
  • Working Together on White boards – Funds awarded to Multiage (1/2) teacher Ms. Goldsworthy at Cole School for 16 easel style two sided white boards for students to use to take notes, share ideas, take risks, collaborate, brainstorm, show thinking, and practice concepts in math and spelling.  Ms. Golesworthy has sampled a few and found them highly valuable in her classroom.  Her request for 16 more will allow for use in both multiage 1/2 classrooms.  
  • PBL/Flexible Classroom – Funds awarded to Cole Kindergarten teachers Jessica Fuller and Heather Schwager for flexible seating and table options for their kindergarten classrooms to give children the option to have some control of the physical environment in which they work best. Flexible seating gives increased space for collaboration to share creative ideas and facilitate discussion and we know that is important for student learning.  They have requested for each of their classrooms one rectangular floor table and one round floor table with  accompanying floor seats for each. 
  • Science of Reading High Interest decodable book sets  – Funds awarded to Lisa Salisbury to purchase 8 sets (10-12 copies per set) of High Noon Phonics Books to be used throughout Cole School, K – 2.  Lisa Salisbury, multiage teacher at Cole, along with all K-2 Cole teachers, have been involved in a professional development course called The Science of Reading with HILL for Literacy.  One of the key components in effective reading instruction is the use of decodable books for building fluency and automaticity.  However, a currently lacking component in her classroom are high interest books with fantasy /adventure themes that are for older readers who are still working on decoding skills that are often covered by younger themed books.  The addition of these book sets will help fill that gap. 
  • Save Me a Seat Flexible Seating Voice and Choice – Funds awarded to Katie Callhan-Muller a third grade teacher at Spofford Pond School to fund flexible seating choices in order to offer her students options to find a seating choice that best meets their physical need for support, movement, and offers dynamic ability to interact and find comfort.  
  • Flipping for Education – Funds awarded to Michelle Sierpina to purchase 3 additional whiteboard tables to complete the classroom. In 2019, 3 flip whiteboard tables were purchased via BEST grant.  She has since used those tables as intended, and in a few ways she perhaps hadn’t initially thought of, and she reports that they are a great success!  They are such a success, that she wants to secure three more for a complete set that allows all students to use them simultaneously.  BEST loves this forward-thinking approach that facilitates learning in a collaborative environment where ideas are shared, mistakes are “out there” and should be made as a necessary part of the process, so that developing flexible thinkers all can work together and engage in a thinking process to develop best solutions.
  • Flexible Seating: Funds awarded to third-grade teacher Sarah Hartley.  Ms. Hartley recognizes the challenge for some students to sit all day in conventional classroom seating that can be rigid and uncomfortable and doesn’t necessarily accommodate students who can think better when their bodies are allowed to move.  Research shows that when students are given more choice over where they sit and feel comfortable, they are more able to focus, and performance increases.  Accordingly, Ms. Hartley has requested that she be able to purchase three different types of alternative seating for a total of 15 new seat options in her classroom.  Students will be systematically shown how to use each seat and then take turns trying out the different options to find the seat that works for them. These seating options include:  Learning Flex Space Balance Ball Seats, Learning Flex Premium Wobble Chairs,  and Learning Flex Space Ergo Bounce Cantilever chairs, all from Lakeshore.  BEST loves this Classroom of the Future focused idea and would like to support Ms. Hartley in her endeavor.  
  • Lights, Camera, Action!  Rethinking Literacy: Funds awarded to fourth-grade teachers Laura Valzania, Sharon Davis, Diane Mazzaglia and our digital literacy specialist Samantha Kosakowsi, have brought us yet another truly innovative idea!  This project is to be made available not just to the “Hive” classroom, although that is where the pilot will run, but with the intent of extending it to all grades at Spofford Pond School. Through this grant, students will “learn the many roles required to produce a feature film, documentary, series, interview, and/or commercial, and create variety of video products for a public audience…The grant is to fund film-making technology as a means to help students develop important literacy skills while taking ownership of their own learning…This type of learning experience inspires and encourages creativity and problem-solving, maximizes flexible thinking, and provides endless opportunities for meaningful collaboration while allowing students to develop an understanding and appreciation for diverse student perspectives. Students will have opportunities to explore and develop a deeper understanding of curriculum content as well as important issues that exist in our school, local, national and global communities…This grant will be supported by Samantha Kosakowski who has experience working in film production (prior to her teaching career). She will be working with us and our students to teach us how to use production equipment, online video editing technology, and to help us develop basic film-making skills.” – Laura Valzani.  The grant includes purchase of lighting, a video camera kit, microphones, WEVIdeo online video editing technology, and a Spacework Devibel Single Recording pod…an actual enclosed soundproof space where students can enter and record/report/produce, without the interruption of outside noise, which has been a considerable challenge for students in the past. BEST loves this innovative and highly engaging idea and the goal of piloting it over this school year and inspiring  all teachers to think about how they might engage their students with this space. 
  • PBIS Rollout:  Funds awarded for the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program brought forth to use by Cole teachers Lisa Salisbury (grades 1-2 Multiage teacher) and Julie Hopkinson (School Adjustment Counselor).  This grant is based on an initiative shared by Cole and Spofford schools with full support from the administration.  This objective is to train school and district teams, through professional development, in district-wide systems of behavioral supports and interventions to improve school climate for all students and reduce disruptive behaviors.  This will be comprised of a three-year-long project that will include synchronous and asynchronous training as well as individualized, on-site technical assistance and consultation with ongoing support for implementation.  It comes with embedded evidence-based, culturally relevant practices as well as data systems and analysis. and provides a common and consistent language for all students and faculty across buildings to address behavior, something not currently in place between the buildings.  The proposing grant team has observed this program in use in neighboring school districts that report its success based on first-hand experience.   Building principals will serve as District Administrators at their respective schools with Julie Hopkinson and Julie Benson both working as Team Coaches, also at their respective schools.  The school budget has already secured Ms. Hopkinson in an additional part-time (.2) role as the PBIS Coordinator.  Grant funds have been requested to fund the first year of training stipends and related substitute teacher coverage. 
  • Mass. Children’s Book Award: Funds awarded to Spofford Pond Library Media Specialist Barbara Boulay.  Ms. Boulay requested the first phase of this grant in our last grant round in 2019 and has come back for a second, and keeping within our two-year limit, final, request for BEST to fund two copies of 25 additional book titles which include titles written from current, socially relevant viewpoints and with socially relevant themes.  Criteria for the 25 book titles include literary quality, variety of genre, representation of diverse cultural viewpoints/interests, and overall reader appeal.  Students will be given the opportunity to choose their favorite book and cast their vote in March.  The author of the winning book receives a plaque to commemorate the award, sponsored by Salem State University.  Books will be made available to students via designated carts in the library.  BEST is pleased to be able to use funds from the Harriet Ernst Foundation bequest to us upon Ms. Ernst’s passing to be designated to literacy-based initiatives in our Boxford schools.  Ms. Ernst was a teacher and had a love for literature.
  • ‘Dash’ Coding Robots: Funds awarded to Dr. Joyce Rains for seven new ‘Dash’ coding robots to use with students in grades 3-5 at the Spofford Pond School.  The Dash robot teaches students at every level to code.  Third graders can plot out a simple path for Dash to follow using basic coding.  Fourth and fifth graders can use the coding language Scratch to program Dash to carry out increasingly complex tasks.  Students of all levels can program Dash to write songs, creating an opportunity for interdisciplinary study.  All of these components will ready students for the sixth grade Lego Mindstorms unit, which uses complex Blockly coding to control robots.  It is a fun, easy to access robot that will increase student interest in pursuing coding and robotics at a higher level.
  • Innovative Furniture and Digital Learning Tools for Inspiring a Student-Centered Learning Space: Funds awarded to Laura Valzania and Sharon Davis for 8 bookcases and 8 Softscape rectangle Ottoman seating in their student-centered learning space classroom, ‘The Hive’.
  • Flipping for Education: Funds awarded to Michelle Sierpina to purchase 3 new whiteboard tables that can be flipped into standup whiteboards and used to jot down ideas, share thoughts, formulas, instructions, hints, and answers in the 6th grade Science classroom where she co-teaches with Ms. Osowski.
  • Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Google Expedition Kits: Funds awarded to Samantha Kosakoswi to be shared with all students through push-in model enhancement in any Spofford Pond Classroom.  Ms. Kosakowski currently has five Virtual Reality kits, but will now have the ability to bring Augmented Reality (ie. picture a virtual beehive in your child’s classroom!), as well as Virtual Reality, through the purchase of five additional kits which offer both features, allowing more in-depth participation and experiences for students, and ability to reach more students more efficiently.

  • Staff Development:  Funding for a two sequence course offering through Landmark to Ms. Elisa Sanders. From Theory to Practice: Understanding Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia and Instructing English Language Learners (ELLS) with Learning Disabilities, will further her professional development and knowledge base to help support students with learning differences in these areas.  Ms. Sanders will share what she learns in the courses with the Special Education staff directly through a presentation, and also directly through consultation with teachers and administrators.  This grant award will come from a generous donation from the Harriet Ernst Foundation, in support of fostering a love of reading for all.

  • Design to Learn Project-Based Learning to two separate classrooms: Funding awarded to Ms. Kasmarcik’s and Ms. Mazzaglia’s 4th fourth-grade classroom AND Ms. Malo’s fourth-grade classroom.  Both have engaged in their own PBL design process in order to answer the following question;  How can we design a classroom environment that allows students to do their best learning?  This project was inspired by the idea of creating ‘classrooms of the future’ that reflects recognition of the changing face of our workplaces and the demands of the jobs of the future as well as working hard to meet the needs of all students as optimally as possible.  Both classrooms engaged in a multi-step process to VERY thoughtfully arrive at classroom layouts that would foster learning for all and submitted individual detailed requests to create their ideal classroom landscapes.  These students did a terrific job creating and submitting their own grants through a collaborative presentation and individually written letters, after considerable research.  This was truly Project-Based Learning at its finest!

  • Time to Climb: Funds awarded to Mr. Michael Petelle, Physical Education Teacher to install a heavy-duty, soft to the touch, well-padded, eight-foot by twenty-foot, climbing wall in the Cole school gym!  This climbing wall will allow Mr. Patelle to bring character and creativity to lesson planning allowing students to improve strength, motor planning, and enhance social-emotional learning.  This “Wall” will fold neatly against the current wall when not in use, keeping students safe and allowing for space for other activities to remain available.  
  • Read Live: Funds awarded to Ms. Martin and Ms. Amendolora, Reading Specialists at Cole School for the purchase of a researched-based reading program to support students in Response To Intervention (RTI) services to improve their reading skills during their 30-minute literacy block.  This will provide the teachers with needed materials to address reading vulnerability and the means to track progress and sequence child-specific appropriate stories that foster fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and expression.  The total amount awarded for this grant will come directly from a generous contribution by the Harriet Ernst Foundation in support of literacy and love of reading in students.

  • We Video:   Funds awarded to Samantha Kosakowski for a 2- year subscription for 30 seats (approx. one per classroom) to the cloud-based WeVideo product, a classroom tool allowing students to produce videos using Chromebooks.  Trial versions have been put to good use already, we look forward to seeing what our students will create!
  • Wired for Greatness:  Funds awarded to Vanessa Boyle to re-allocate to Spofford Pond students to fund student ideas for things such as small businesses, fundraisers and other projects.  Ms. Boyle has given much thought to the structure of this program and will give students from each grade an opportunity twice a year to apply for funding and she will work to help support students in sharing their great ideas with others!  This grant was inspired by Officer Michelle Nowak who was often heard telling children about how they were each “wired for greatness!”

  • Seven Chromebooks:   Funds awarded to Ali Coates, Patti Guido and Samantha Kosakowski for seven Chromebooks to be housed and used for station work in the third-grade co-taught classroom as recommended by their co-teaching model consultant.  We are pleased to be able to support the co-teaching model, a new Spofford Pond Initiative.

  • Wordly Wise i3000:   Funds awarded to Deb O’Brien and her fifth-grade team (Ms. Whittaker, Ms. Wiles-Stasko and Ms. Sanders) for the purchase of the on-line version of the Workbook program Wordly Wise, as a pilot program.  This online option offers students sequential, systematic instruction that is more tailored and accessible to the individual.    This allows for differentiation and multi-tiered instruction in a much more engaging and motivational format.

  • Escape Room Activities:  Funds awarded to Laura Valzania to purchase materials through Teachers Pay Teachers, so that students can embark on secret missions to foster skills of analysis and evaluation using a series of challenges that directly align with the American History curriculum.  What Fun!

  • Pause for Puzzles:  Funds awarded to Michelle Sierapina to purchase a puzzle board and three puzzles that she will set up as a station in her classroom that students can use when they need a “brain break”, ie. having difficulty focusing, staying on task, feeling anxious or needing to move.  A few minutes at this station will give students the break needed to re-engage and be ready to learn and return to their work.

  • MA CHildren’s Book Award Program (MCBA) at Spofford Pond School:  Funds awarded to Barbara Boulay and Lindsay Kasmarick to purchase and make available to students five sets of 25 books, written in the last five years, that are carefully chosen by educators, librarians, and interested publishers.  These books will be available in each of the 6th-grade classrooms and in the library.  Students will be encouraged to read the books and after reading five titles will vote for their favorite.  Titles are chosen with consideration given to literary quality, genre variety, representation of diverse cultural groups, and reader appeal.  We are happy to fund this application using funds from the Harriet Ernst fund. Ms. Ernst was known for her love of children’s literacy and this fund was established in her name accordingly.  What a perfect application of those funds!

  • Flexible Seating:  Funds awarded to Elise Sanders for Wobble Chairs in the 5th and 6th grades.  We are hopeful that this will allow her to purchase at least 12 chairs to be placed in fifth and sixth-grade classrooms, and we are also hopeful that other supporters will match our grant, or further contribute, to help her reach her goal of 24 chairs.

  • Broadening Rhythmic & Cultural Connections for All:  Funds awarded to Ms. Monty for the purchase of a 100 Series tunable Tubano instrument to be used in her Samba Drum Ensemble.
2017/18 Grant Awards:
  • Funds awarded to Ms. Davis’ 4th grade classroom to provide twenty-three 1:1 Chromebooks
  • Funds awarded to Vanessa Boyle and the Green Team: A $100 gift card to Walmart and a $100 gift card to the Home Depot to be given to be used to buy materials to plant flowers this winter and herbs in the spring.  This spring these funds will also be used to furnish supplies.

  • Funds awarded to Kim Suther and her second grade classroom for Osmo in the Classroom

  • Funds awarded to to Candyce Wainwright, Digital Learning Specialist and STEM teacher at Cole, to attend a train the trainer 4 day work shop entitled: STEM Instruction that Works:  Strengthening STEM Using Project Based Learning (PBL) Strategies

  • Funds awarded to Allison Salerno, 2nd grade teacher at Cole School, Inspire Science Mentor Text  allows second grade students to access twenty-six chapter books that highlight material taught across six modules in the new Inspire Science Program at Cole School.   These books will be made available to individual classroom libraries.

  • Funds awarded to Language Based Program at Cole School run by Amy Viera to purchase an Interactive Jtouch communication board to replace poorly functioning SMART board.

  • Funds awarded to grade 6 teacher Vanessa Boyle, on behalf of the 6th grade team of classroom teachers of Spofford Pond School, including two special education teachers, for a total of 9 teachers to partake in an on-line training in Study Skills and Executive Function through the Landmark Outreach Program starting in July of 2018.

  • Funds reserved for Grade 6 teacher Laura Valzania of Spofford Pond School for 25 books to support her digital and global citizenship and literacy curriculum

To learn more about the Grants Awarded by BEST prior to 2017 please reach out to [email protected]