The foundation announced 25 grants for the district’s six schools at a ceremony featuring speeches and slideshow presentations by teachers last Tuesday at Mamaroneck High School.
Educators apply for the grants each year to fund projects the district wouldn’t normally put in its budget, from upgrading a school’s music-recording equipment to buying e-book readers for special-needs students.
The grants come at a critical time this year, as the district faces new budget constraints from state mandates and continuing economic difficulties, said the foundation’s president, Ginny Poleman.
“Unfortunately, when budgets are cut, innovation and development are cut,” she said. “The grant process allows you to think bigger and better when the budget doesn’t.”
Hommocks science teacher Michael Sammartano is getting 13 new iPod touches with built-in cameras that will allow students to do time-lapse photography and post videos of study sessions on YouTube, he said.
“This opens up a whole new world of applications for uses in the classroom,” Sammartano said.
Other 2011-12 grants include:
• providing five new iMac computers, a camera and software for the photography program at the high school to enhance its new “digital curriculum”;
• installing projectors and document cameras in the band rooms at Chatsworth Avenue and Murray Avenue schools that allow students to read enlarged musical notation during rehearsals;
• starting an e-book collection that features digital editions of the top print titles in the fiction sections at elementary school libraries and the reference section at the high school;
• equipping the fifth-grade classrooms at Central School with 10 lightweight laptops known as netbooks, each with a portable charging cart.
Superintendent of Schools Robert Shaps said the grants have allowed teachers to come up with creative new ways to enliven the classroom experience for students.
The grants “have really become invaluable in terms of providing us with funding for initiatives that would be difficult to imagine in the budget,” Shaps said.
PHOTO: Hommocks Middle School teacher Michael Sammartano talks about using iPod touches, funded through the Mamaroneck Schools Foundation, to enhance the curriculum in his earth sciences class Tuesday, March 8, 2011, at Mamaroneck High School. (Colin Gustafson/The Journal News)