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LEEF Awards $75K in Grants

Chelsea Berry, a K-5 math specialist, received $12,600 for 54 “genius kits” and 18 iPads that will be used in each of the town’s three elementary schools. Pictured, Berry demonstrates how the kits function.

LONGMEADOW, MA – The Longmeadow Education Excellence Foundation (LEEF) has awarded 33 grants totaling nearly $75,000 this year. The grants were presented to administrators and teachers during a ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 at Longmeadow High School.

The competitive grants are spread amongst all Longmeadow schools, with many representing cross-grade or cross-school collaborations. For example, Chelsea Berry, a K-5 math specialist, received $12,600 for 54 “genius kits” and 18 iPads that will be used in each of the town’s three elementary schools. Berry said the genius kits, called Osmo, utilize interactive games to teach numbers, words and tangrams.

“Osmo creates flexible thinkers, and opens the door to so much more than math,” Berry said. “When the kids in my intervention classes tried it, they loved it. They didn’t even mind doing math. They were having fun, learning and working collaboratively.”
Berry thanked LEEF for the grant that allowed the implementation of this new teaching tool.

“We are so thankful,” she said. “I know everyone is really excited, including the teachers.”

Since its inception in 2001, LEEF has given out more than 325 grants totaling over $1 million.

LEEF board member Evan Robinson said LEEF is a volunteer organization that has been successful due to the dedicated parents and community members who serve on the board and various committees. He also thanked the teachers and administrators for their work within the school system.

“Beyond us as parents are those dedicated individuals who inspire our kids by creating a love of learning, a curiosity of the unknown, a confidence born from success, an understanding that struggling does not mean failure, but a different path to success,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools Marty O’Shea added his praise, both to LEEF for its financial support and for the teachers whose innovative and creative ideas consistently raise the bar in Longmeadow’s classrooms.

Superintendent of School Marty O’Shea holds a check representing nearly $75,000 in LEEF grants awarded this year.

“These grants help us provide important enrichment opportunities for students,” O’Shea said. “They encourage instructional experimentation. I think when you look at the grants this year, it puts us on the cutting edge of technology, the integration of movement in the classroom, and a whole range of new instructional approaches.”

O’Shea noted how Berry’s project is a good example of these new approaches to learning, and the power of LEEF grants.

“LEEF is such a great expression of what makes Longmeadow special, enabling teachers to bring the latest and greatest ideas to students,” he said. “Our gratitude to LEEF runs deep. They help plant the seeds for future growth. They allow teachers to take risks and explore new approaches that benefit all of us. This foundation is the envy of foundations everywhere.”

LEEF’s mission is to create and maintain a fund for the benefit of Longmeadow Public Schools students, specifically for innovative education and enrichment programs that are outside the regular school budget.

A large portion of the funds available for grants each year is raised through LEEF’s annual gala. This year’s gala is set for Saturday, Nov. 4 at Twin Hills Country Club. The theme this year will be “Rock the Night,” and it will include live and silent auctions, food, and live music from Boston-based dance band “The Marsels.”

More information on LEEF or the gala can be found at www.goleef.org.

– Article by Sarah Leete Tsitso