Small gift bags marking the occasion of the Falmouth Education Foundation grantee awards ceremony—each containing a Falmouth Education Foundation hat, an FEF lanyard pin, and a mini-bottle of champagne—were delivered to 15 Falmouth teachers in advance of the event, which was held by Zoom on Thursday last week, May 27.
A program detailing the wide variety of grants to be awarded was also included, featuring a statement on the cover page applauding “every employee of the Falmouth Public Schools for their extraordinary efforts to help their students navigate the uncertainties of the last two years.”
“The excellence displayed this year provides ample reason to look forward to the next academic year with hope and optimism,” the statement says.
“Today is our favorite day of the year,” president of the FEF board of directors Alan Jacobs said in an opening statement.
“We work all year long raising money and looking at grant applications. Thank you all for submitting these applications. We didn’t know what to expect this year, given the pandemic, but between new and continuing grants, 15 will be awarded today.
Twenty-five grants awarded for the past year but put on hold because of the pandemic will also go into effect for the coming academic year.
“Grant applications have come from every school and every grade,” Mr. Jacobs said. “I think it is safe to say that every student in the Falmouth public schools will be impacted by an FEF grant this year, which is just so wonderful and makes the work we do so rewarding.”
“We want to celebrate all of you,” FEF program committee chairwoman Joanne Holcomb told the attendees, who included school administrators.
“We are so grateful for what you do for students always, but especially for all you have done during the challenges of the pandemic. You need to know that we’re grateful, and we notice, and we are appreciative,” she said.
With the support of FEF grants, 4th grade students across the school district, including those who are differently abled, will continue to learn the sport of curling, and Falmouth High School students will attend ceramic artist workshops with featured guest artists, emphasizing the use of images in pottery.
Lawrence School 7th graders will participate in a “student day of poetry,” learning from professional poets how to create their own poems and participating in a school-wide poetry slam.
East Falmouth Elementary students in grades kindergarten to 12 will continue to learn techniques through the highly successful Everyday Speech Curriculum, which helps with such social/emotional learning as self-regulation, conflict resolution and friendship skills.
Morse Pond students will work on “journeys of self-awareness into inclusivity and respect for all” through the multi-part Doors, Windows, and Mirrors program.
Lawrence School 8th grade students who study the principles of genetic relatedness, and the use of DNA analysis to study these relationships, will have use of a grant-funded “Mini One” DNA analysis kit and supplies to learn how to use gel electrophoresis for DNA analysis, which science teacher Kristin Tribou said could “spark future career interest in a growing field.”
A Falmouth High School college mentoring program will “change the lives” of students who would not otherwise consider a four-year college degree; and a new digital printer and snap-open frames will enable Lawrence School student artists to display their work throughout the school year.
Morse Pond students will be able to create videos with a tool called “Wevideo,” and high school students will meet with Boston activist Arthur Halvorson for inspiration and then create an 80-foot mural for the school with a focus on social justice and positive messaging.
Two hundred Falmouth High School 10th grade students studying Shakespeare will have the chance to see a live performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare & Company of Lenox in the school auditorium.
Four small French horns will be purchased for use in the instrumental music program at the elementary schools. Regular French horns are too big for younger students, so they do not select them to play in the later grades.
“This has been a dream of mine for Falmouth for a decade,” music teacher Kari Fietek said. “The French horn is a challenging instrument if you don’t start early.”
Books that show more cross-racial connections, diverse families and home lives as well as characters with disabilities will be purchased for the East Falmouth Elementary School library.
“These will help students understand others’ lives and cultures and expand their vision of the world,” the school’s kindergarten-to-4 library technology teacher Tara Draper said.
FEF grants will also help fund children’s books related to technology and engineering, and “Let’s Read That Series” books to encourage continued reading of book series at the school.
“I’m so inspired with these proposals. Makes me wish I was a student in your classes. How lucky our students are to have you as their teachers,” one of the many supportive and congratulatory comments in the Zoom chat function during the awards ceremony said.
“I am very fortunate to be teaching in Falmouth where FEF supports creative education,” another said.
East Falmouth Elementary School Principal Paul Goodhind spoke up to praise the ease with which so many teachers are able to access the grant resources the Falmouth Education Foundation offers.
“I’ve been around the block a little bit and from what I’ve seen, you talk the talk and walk the walk,” Mr. Goodhind said to the FEF members present.
“It’s been an unbelievably generous and impressive process, and I can’t say enough about it,” he said of FEF’s grant awards.
“The range of applications available since FEF’s inception shows the power of the community to support students and teachers,” Assistant Superintendent of Schools Sonia Tellier said at the end of the ceremony, as she thanked the teachers for their creativity.
“This is a great place to be,” Superintendent of Schools Lori S. Duerr said of Falmouth, as she thanked FEF for all of its support of creative and innovative Falmouth teachers.