Innovation Mini-Grants and Expanded Innovation 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 326 individual staff members have submitted 583 proposals of which 430 have been funded.  Proposal amounts have ranged from $43 to $10,000 and involved every discipline from physical education to MacBeth 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 those approved are recommended to the Board of Trustees for funding.

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.

Fall 2019

Innovation Mini-Grants

Diversity in Science Literacy                                                Paulette Cinotti, Gerald White

Scientist very in gender, ethnicity, and cultural background; embracing this diversity should be part of the learning experience in the science classroom. By using a variety of books written by and about non-dominant groups, we will celebrate cultural diversity and pave the way to inclusivity in science education. These books will be housed in the RAS media center and used as a resource for specific class projects, with the goal of nurturing cultural literacy in our sixth grade students.

Pretend Play for Real Learning                                          Megan Connolly

This project will allow for children to experience additional dramatic play scenarios beyond the traditional “housekeeping”. Children will be able to engage in the added worlds of a grocery store, doctor’s office, ice cream parlor, restaurant, and veterinarian’s office. These varied settings will create new opportunities to develop vocabulary, cooperate with peers, and practice problem-solving skills. Frequently changing materials, such as games, puzzles and art projects will spark excitement in the children. This project will allow for that excitement to extend to the dramatic play area as well.

Expanded Innovation Grants

The DBQ Project                                                                  Eric Dimeck, Carol Svetik, John Lawlor The goal of this initiative is to improve critical thinking skills by providing teachers with the teaching tools, and students with strategies for writing document document-based question (DBQ) essays and further develop essential analytical skills. Two professional development workshops with a trainer from the DBQ project will be provided to Middle School and High School Social Studies and English teachers, and online and print resources will be purchased. These resources will help students break down the process for answering essential questions from ancient history to modern times by analyzing sources, constructing a thesis, and supporting claims with evidence.  Examples of questions students will explore taking on the role of historians as they learn to critically read primary and secondary sources and construct claims supported by evidence are:

  • How Did the Renaissance Change Man’s View of the World?
  • Female Workers in Japanese Silk Factories: Did the Costs Outweigh the Benefits?
  • Martin Luther King and Malcolm X: Whose Philosophy Made the Most Sense for America in the 1960s?

Collaboration Café                                                                           Lindsay Coral, Jessica Gill

Third and fourth grade students will join forces and have the opportunity to improve their language arts abilities. Two classes of students will read books of their choice in a café environment. Comfortable

seating, special amenities, and books will be provided during each meeting setting the stage. Fourth grade students will act as mentors and develop a sense of leadership during this time. Third grade students will look to mentors for help to increase their Daily 5 language arts skills. Both groups will seek to build reading stamina, fluency, comprehension, and writing skills through this collaboration.

Reimagining Recess                                                                          Megan Connolly  

Recess is an important time within the elementary student’s day. Often what comes to mind when one thinks of recess are visions of children running, climbing on equipment and bouncing balls. However, if one reimagines recess, a much fuller picture can emerge. A picture of children engaged in team building using large blocks, taking turns playing games, practicing eye-hand coordination with a beanbag toss, balancing on alphabet stepping stones, and role-playing with construction vehicles. Reimagining recess will provide Central School students with more varied opportunities during outside recess time but more importantly also during inclement weather when the playground equipment is unavailable.


Funded Spring 2019 for 2019-2020 School Year

Innovation Mini-Grants

Engineering and Programming with Arduino Quadcopter      Andrew Shohan

Using Arduino boards, Arduino programming, and quadcopter parts, students will learn skills to build and control drones.  This project will give students a hands-on experience that will extend the capabilities of an Arduino board by adding programmable motors, propellers and sensors.  Students will be able to program the Arduino boards to adjust the power to each motor autonomously.  Additionally, they can add more self-controlling sensors such as barometers, GPS, sonar and a gyroscope.  Arduino programming will give students the opportunity to use a free programming language to control technological systems that solve problems or accomplish tasks.  Students will be engaged in creating these flying robotic systems that sense the environment.

Soft Starts for School Success                                                      Jessica Gill

Third grade students will explore and participate in a collection of activities to ignite enthusiasm, creativity, and social and emotional learning skills. Soft Starts allow students to welcome the academic day by following their own curiosity, driven by personal choice. Through the use of imaginative and explorative tools like STEM challenges, logic puzzles, and brain teasers, students will sustain motivation and problem solve with peers.  This movement from a traditional start to the day will allow students to develop a natural curiosity and engagement for the rest of the school day.

Literacy Circles for the Curious Kindergartener                         Erin Goldstein

Literacy learning is a key focus for kindergarten students, and literacy circles are a good way to foster this learning in a small group setting. Having appropriate seating that is "just right" for young learners encourages shared thinking and responses, and creates a comfortable atmosphere where students can take chances and learn. The goal of this grant is to create an age-appropriate space for kindergarten literacy learning, and to build confidence and the love of reading!

Funded Fall 2018 for 2018-2019 School Year

Innovation Mini-Grants

March Book Madness                                               Paula Horton                          

K-2 students at Linden Avenue School will participate in a shared reading experience. March Book Madness will begin with 16 picture books which will be read aloud to the students and each class will vote for their favorite in a bracket-style tournament to determine a school winner.  March Book Madness will support diversity by offering books that showcase a diverse representation of characters.  Through participation in this project, students will be exposed to diverse picture books with the goal of spreading the love and excitement of books and reading as well as an understanding of others..

Hygge - The Cozy Nook                                           Paula Ely

Research shows learning environments have a direct impact on student achievement.  The motivation behind this project is “Hygge”, (pronounced “hoo-guh”) which is a popular Danish classroom design concept meaning comfort, togetherness, and well-being.   The plan is to repurpose a small storage area by designing a cozy nook, where students can go relax for independent reading, writing and quiet study.  Room design will place high priority on calming colors, mood lighting, and flexible seating options.  These features are known to maximize student enthusiasm, commitment to learning, focus, and behavior.

“Forest Flies” Around the World                            Lisa Petruzzi, Jody Walsh

Forest PK - 2 students will travel across the globe learning about countries and cultures to enhance their appreciation of the diversity of our great world.  Each grade will participate in an in-depth, interdisciplinary study of Spain, Egypt, Japan, and France.  During this week long project each grade level will have the opportunity to not only learn about their grade’s country but they will take a virtual trip to these great lands where they will be engrossed in the culture of each.  This adventure will culminate in a Forest family event where each country will be celebrated.

Reading Comes Alive with Daily Five              Diane Blazier, Michelle Klein, Alyssa Roqueni

In support of a previous grant providing professional development in which teachers attended a week-long workshop in the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading and writing, this grant will provide greater access to hands-on learning materials utilized in the implementation of this technique and the Daily Five.  Glen Ridge strives to meet the needs of all the students although their educational needs vary in cognitive, physical, and emotional ways.  The Daily Five fosters a more student-driven learning environment in a flipped classroom requiring additional resources to enhance student learning.  Engaging in multi-sensory mini-lessons will help improve attention, focus, and behavior during learning.

Expanded Innovation Grants

UNICEF Kid Power            Katie Stapp, Trish Fagan, Danielle Chesney, Rob Stomber, Elaina Frissel,     Pamela Barton, Theresa Messineo, Cindy Barrington, Joe Caravela

UNICEF Kid Power is a program of UNICEF USA that gives kids the power to save lives by connecting their everyday activity to real-world impact.  Linden Avenue second grade students will participate in this initiative and wear Kid Power bands which measure their steps and movement.  The bands will give points to the students the more they move.  By getting active with UNICEF Kid Power, students unlock therapeutic food packets that UNICEF delivers to severely malnourished kids around the world.  Teachers will teach lessons connected to Kid Power and provide students with brain breaks in which students will get moving.

Technology in the Spanish Classroom                                            Monica Nieves, Christina Rodriguez

A Promethean board will enable all Ridgewood Avenue School students to benefit from short educational videos, songs and interactive games learning and reviewing concepts.  Virtual field trips and utilization of relevant websites will provide more engaging and cooperative ways for students to learn.

“We Need Diverse Books”: A Celebration of Our Differences      Jerry White

Since the “We Need Diverse Books” national movement began in 2004, children’s literature has been reinvigorated by a welcome infusion of stories featuring a broad range of diverse characters.  Addition of books of a diverse nature to the Ridgewood Avenue School library will enable students to identify with and learn about a broader range of experiences than is currently available.  A carefully curated selection of novels that reflect a broad range of experiences will build empathy, reduce stereotypes and help more diverse students further their love of reading through access to voices that better reflect their own lives. 

This project will help more diverse students further their love of reading through access to voices that better reflect their own lives.  In addition, these diverse books will benefit the entire student population by introducing them to experiences that may be foreign to them. Living vicariously through these stories and characters will help students develop an empathetic understanding of the larger world around them and all the peoples that inhabit it.

Creation Station                                                                                  Francoise Spano

Ridgewood Avenue teachers will have their own makerspace in which to craft engaging materials to use in their classrooms.  Teachers will be able to create kinesthetic learning games, visually appealing posters, multisensory tools, mnemonic devices, etc. and tap into resources available through Teachers Pay Teachers.

Many Cultures, One School                                                               Theresa Messineo, Megan Connolly

Linden Avenue School PK - 2 students will go on an educational cultural journey over the course of several months during which they will learn about and share each other’s family heritage.  They will be engaged in classroom lessons and experiences which span across the curriculum including science, social students, language arts, math, library, music, art, and PE.  Age appropriate activities for each grade level will focus on a range of cultural backgrounds.  Each classroom will conduct an in-depth study of a country (incorporating Google Expedition) and all students will visit each room with passports in a museum style gallery walk throughout the building.  Linden parents will be asked to share their knowledge and talents to participate in educating students in classroom visits and at an International Festival evening event.  Through sharing unique cultural differences, the strengths and similarities that make up One Linden Avenue School Community will be highlighted.