Innovation Mini-Grants are at the heart of the Foundation and are awarded twice a year.  Any Glen Ridge Public Schools staff member, or group of staff,  may submit a proposal for funding a project within the guidelines of the program.  Since inception 271 individual staff members have submitted 513 proposals of which 365 have been funded.  Proposal amounts have ranged from $43 to $10,000 and involved every discipline from physical education to Mac Beth to teacher professional development and STEM education.  No request has ever been denied due to lack of funds.  Proposals are evaluated by a Peer Review Panel of educators and then approved by the Board of Trustees.

Here is what one Innovation Mini-Grant recipient said:

When the news arrives that you have been awarded a "Mini-Grant" from the Glen Ridge Education Foundation, the first feelings are of pride, confirmation, and success.  It is always inspiring and energizing when a group of professionals have deemed your project worthy of recognition and funding.  But once you and your students begin getting into the project itself, a different, and far more long-lasting feeling pervades. Through the use of special materials that the Foundation has provided, you are able to set "the foundation" yourself for an educational experience that will affect the lives of many, many students.  The benefits of receiving a "Mini-Grant" from the Foundation continue to change from the dynamics of classroom interaction to setting standards of excellence for a lifetime of students.

Sample Innovation Mini-Grants


Art for One: Art for All                                                                                                                Kim Waldron, Julie Burns, Lisa Jacobsen

This learning project will take the Forest Avenue Primary One students through a creative learning process by strongly incorporating the Visual Arts curriculum throughout the Primary One Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies and Science curriculums.  Students will gain success as a team by their collaborative creation of a mixed-media, multi-disciplined visual art installation piece. 

 Efficient Technological Tools in the Classroom: the Portable Electronic Whiteboard      Nolan Erickson

The use of a bluetooth-enabled writing tablet will enable chemistry students to project their handwriting on a projector screen from anywhere in the classroom.  The tool will allow immediate whole class access to student learning, and will be instrumental in sharing small group work without the need for re-engagement at regular desks.

 Teentech TM                                                                                                                                 Myra Bachrach, Winnie Boswell

Girls in grades 9,10, and 11 will participate in a day of hand-on workshops that are designed to make technology, science, engineering, and math exciting and relevant and to interest girls in high-demand careers in the global economy where women are greatly underrepresented.  High School girls from around the state will have the opportunity to lean problem-solving skills by engaging in hands-on workshop sessions with faculty and college students in Technology and Engineering disciplines.  This is a project of the American Association if University Women.

 Integrating Technology into the Classroom for Improved Student Engagement and Motivatio       Laura Heber

The resource room is too small to accommodate a SmartBoard but will have a large flat screen television to display visual and audio clips, work samples, assignments and directions, Power Point lessons, and promote cooperative learning.  Special Education students often have difficultly learning through traditional methods and understanding directions, therefore, this tool will provide an additional system in order to reach all learners.  It will ignite motivation in the classroom and aid students in focused and attentive behavior.

REACH for a Cleaner, Greener Lifestyle
                                                                                  Jaclyn Sibilia

The REACH Program’s Cleaner, Greener Lifestyle Challenge will set forth a two-part quest in which students work on making healthier and more earth friendly decisions in their every day lives. Phase one will promote cleaner eating through juicing, and by increasing the amount of raw fruits and vegetables we include in our daily diet.  Phase two will introduce the idea of self-sustainable systems and encourage students to create a cycle from food scrap composting, to gardening of fresh vegetables, and later using our own produce to create fresh juices. Throughout the project students will gain the knowledge needed to make changes that can reduce the way their activities negatively affect themselves and their environment. Empowering students to take action, learn to modify old negative behaviors, and incorporate healthy living habits into their regular routine. (Note: REACH is a post high school graduate program for students who need to acquire the skills required to be successful young adults and insure they become independent members of society.  Focus is the attainment of occupational, life, and social skills.)

 The Autonomous Highway*                                                                                                         Andrew Shohen 

Excitement has been growing about the era of self-driving cars.  Nearly every automobile manufacturer, as well as Google, is working on prototypes of autonomous vehicles.   This project will give students the opportunity to learn how to build and program vehicles that will traverse a track without crashing into other vehicles.  It will engage students in the discussion about the future of automobiles and encourage them to question whether it will be safer to rely on human judgment or robotic transportation.


Building Our Brilliant Brains with BrainPOP!                                                                             Kelly Kren

First grade students will be challenged, engaged and inspired to delve deeper into subjects, topics and curricular content areas being explored in class via the award-winning online educational resources of the child-centered technology known as BrainPOP.  Visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners will each be stimulated by the creative and kid-friendly ways used to explain concepts, themes and curriculum based content.  Such extension activities will correlate with and expand upon the concepts presented in the areas of language arts, reading, spelling, science, social studies and math. 


iFeedback: Maningful Monitoring of Student Progress*                                                        Stephanie Pollack

Students learn best when they receive consistent, meaningful feedback.  Using an iPad and applications such as Socratic and, the teacher will monitor student progress and challenge students to reflect on their learning.   The teacher will keep track of each student’s self-assessment as well as his or her understanding of new knowledge as a way to enhance instruction.  Students will be able to compare their previous essays and track their growth as writers through the year. They will use their phones or computers to provide immediate feedback that demonstrates their understanding of the material and the teacher will be able to monitor their learning and adjust instruction as necessary.  Streamlining the bookkeeping aspect of students learning will enable the teacher to better identify areas needing attention and also provide more time for effective feedback.


Glen Ridge on the Same Page*                                                                                                Jody Hackmeyer

This project is designed to broaden and deepen an appreciation of reading and compel friends, families and neighbors to share their experience while reading the same book.  It is further intended to engage the community in dialogue and seeks to bring the Glen Ridge community together by promoting tolerance and understanding about learning from failure and understanding success which will be the theme of the book.

 The AP Language and Composition students will read the chosen book and analyze it in class, enabling them to become group leaders for the community discussions.  The Glen Ridge Public Library and school media specialist will assist in this project.  Students will devise activities, discussion questions, and a promotional campaign gaining real world experience.


Odyssey of the Mind *                                                                                                                Michael Donovan

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary Classics.  The Odyssey challenges require thoughtful planning, intense focus, and higher-level thinking abilities to complete projects and ultimately enter them into innovative competitions. This grant will fund three teams from Ridgewood Avenue School.


Using Caldecott Award-Winning Books to Enhance Student Learning                             Alyssa DeSimone

The full collection of Caldecott award-winning books from 1938 through 2013 will be used to support and enhance instruction in all content areas, and students will have permanent access and exposure to well-written literature from a variety of genres by renowned authors and illustrators. The books will be used to motivate student learning in the areas of literacy, critical thinking, art, social studies, science, math, and character education.

Books for Boys*                                                                                                                       Yvonne Bouknight

Second grade boys who have not made adequate progress in reading due either to low achievement or lack of motivation will be invited to participate in the Books for Boys Book Club. Most children enter school excited about learning and highly motivated. Research has shown that as children move through the grades a decline in motivation begins around grade four. This slump is more profound in boys and appears to have a direct and negative correlation to their reading achievement. By engaging young boys in meaningful, varied recreational reading material that is relevant to their personal interests they begin to experience reading and have exciting print experiences that increase reading achievement, capture their attention, and assist them in becoming a lifelong reader.

I Can Hear Myself Think!: The Use of PVC Phonics Phones to Enhance Reading and Writing Skills *       Kim Patterson

Special Education students will increase reading and writing skills through the use of PVC phonics phones that funnel their words directly into their ears.  Hearing text and personal writing increases decoding, and comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and error recognition for students especially those with learning and attention challenges.

Math and Literature to Go                                                                                                      Jody Walsh and Kathy Stewart

First grade students, along with their families, will practice their math skills while enjoying a good book and playing a variety of math games.  Take-home bags will be created and sent home, each complete with a mathematical-themed picture book, a related game, all needed manipulatives and directions.  Each bag will provide practice in a fun format with opportunities to differentiate the activities depending on the student’s skill and interest level. 


Common Core Assessment Made Easy*                                                                   Francoise Spano, Christine Coppola, Laura Heber, Cionna Almeida

A binder will be created for each special education team member at Ridgewood Avenue School including assessment materials in mathematics and language arts for first through sixth grades.  This will provide a clear method of tracking student progress and help maintain communication amongst the special education team as each student transitions into a new school year. 

Speak and be Heard *                                                                                                               Christine Sullo

All sixth grade students will utilize USB microphones in integrated technology and across all content areas. Through this project students will be able to record their voice for use in a variety of platforms including but not limited to digital storytelling projects, podcasts, and incorporating voice into websites like  This helps to enrich authentic portfolios and increase oral presentation, motivation, and performance.


Design It, Print It, and Test It *                                                                                                  Andrew Shohan

Through the use of 3D modeling software high school students will be able to easily engage in technical aspects of design and problem solving.  The relative low cost and high speed of creating tangible objects will encourage students to apply mathematical reasoning in the development of products, parts, architectural models and ergonomic design. It allows students to be inventors, product designers and artist.  This modern technology will provide students with a wealth of enriching experiences.  


Fatal Vision Goggles “Save Lives and Prevent Injuries”                                                    Jessica Mahaffey

Fatal vision goggles are designed to educate students on the dangers of drunk driving through simulated impairment. The goggles are worn by the student who then attempts to perform various tasks but experiences the simulated impact of alcohol on their performance.  A starter kit plus two additional pairs of goggles will be purchased for use on the annual “Wellness Awareness Day” as well as in driver education classes and with the Peer Leader class.


Read to Me Tablet                                                    Lindsay Coral

Students with special needs, who excel when questions are read to them, will be provided with a tablet to complete assessments in the general education classroom. Utilizing the text to speech capabilities on the tablet, questions will be read to them at an appropriate pace. The students can replay the questions and also have the option of marking answers directly on the tablet. Student can complete their work without being isolated at a separate table or having someone hover as they complete the test.


Sensory Toolkit for Kinesthetic Learning that Engages a Variety of Learning Styles *     Eileen Ippolito

A variety of equipment will be employed in the classroom that will focus on the learning style of the students.  A quiet classroom setting will be established to enable better learning for all.

Special Project


Using Yoga to Enhance the Educational Experience *    Charlene Reilly, Shehnaz Tapal, Kim Waldron, Domenic Curffman, Lauren Bas, Christine Cordeira

Researchers and educators have experienced first-hand that when children are anxious, frustrated, or stressed it is nearly impossible for them to learn. It is only from a relaxed, calm, and present state of mind and body that children can be physiologically and psychologically learning ready.  Research shows that children who practice yoga and mindfulness are better able to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and calm themselves.

Glen Ridge teachers across the grades have reported stress levels in their students that inhibit the learning process.  In response, five separate proposals utilizing yoga to reduce stress were submitted.  These proposals are being combined under the guidance of the Director of Student Services and will address the use of yoga to reduce stress in students from Pre-K through seventh grade.  Academic achievement will be enhanced by improved physical health, and social and emotional development.