FALL 2019 GRANTS
Staff members were informed of this new grant cycle at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The staff was given a month to explore, develop and submit their proposal. The proposal had to align with the mission of the NEF and meet the stated purpose. All requests were received and screened by the NEF and district administration. In the last week in October, teachers, students and staff members were surprised in their classroom with the award while being broadcast on Facebook Live.
See the detail below on all the awards, photos and Facebook Live videos.
None of this is possible without your direct support of the NEF.
ROUGE RIVER EDUCATION PROGRAM
Novi Meadows – Audrey Akcasu
This year our 5th grade students will be partnering with the Friends of the Rouge (FoR) River watershed council to participate in water quality monitoring. As part of studying the watershed and its various problems, students will have the opportunity to test the different parameters of water quality in a river in their community in both the fall and the spring. Student data will be collected by the FoR and shared with the state of Michigan Environment, Great Lakes & Energy department. We will also analyze our data and research different ways we can teach our community to help clean the Rouge River. The FoR provides the testing materials (chemical tabs, waders, nets, etc.) and teacher trainings to allow us to participate but require a fair share contribution from participating schools.
AUTHENTIC LEARNING FOR ADULT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Novi Adult Transition Center – Kristin Corrion, Sebrina Shields, Joe Pruchnik
The students at the Novi Adult Transition Center attend school to work on independent living skills, employability/vocational skills and social/community awareness. Our classroom has a kitchen, dishwasher, washer/dryer, and vocational skill kits. While these are great tools to learn skills, we would like the opportunity to have our students practice these skills in an authentic environment. We have the opportunity to partner with JCC of Metro Detroit (Jewish Community Center) where our adult students could practice their skills in a real apartment. The JCC is a wonderful organization committed to improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities. The apartment is currently being leased to the JCC with the purpose of providing a setting where students can practice the skills they have learned such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and socialization skills in a real-world setting. The students would attend 1-2x/month and would be given a set of skills to work on. The students may cook a meal, practice paying bills for the apartment, complete laundry, identify activities they can do in their free time or plan to have a social gathering with peers. After working on their skills in the apartment, the students will also have the opportunity to access the physical fitness and social opportunities on the campus of the JCC. Activities include fitness classes and access to the gym facilities. They can also purchase and eat lunch in the cafeteria. This program is the definition of authentic learning. Our students will apply their learned skills in a real-world setting using authentic evaluation tools. Some of our students can live independently or semi-independently. This provides them with an opportunity to explore what living in their own apartment may look like in a safe and educational environment. The students will also learn about community resources that they can access. The outcome of the program is to have students increase their independent living skills and expand their social skills in an authentic manner in a real apartment which cannot be duplicated in a school setting. All 13 students at the Novi Adult Transition Center will have the opportunity to participate in this program.
ELL CLASS LIBRARY
Parkview – Carly Musa, Renee Gant, Tanya Jones, and Ruth Raffoul
Middle School – James Schneider
"I want to add variety of lower reading level, high interest novels and graphic novels to my class library. We currently have 10 minutes of silent reading in every ELA class. Unfortunately the books in my class library are above the reading level of my ELL class. This combined with the media center not having a wide variety of lower level books, has made the time less beneficial to my ELL students.
The students in my sheltered ELA class (currently 26 students) would most benefit from it. It would also benefit students with lower reading levels in my gen ed classes. After adding the books to the class library, I hope to see my ELL students actively engaged in reading during silent reading time. Instead of having to remind them constantly that they need a book to read, they will pick a book on their own.
With a wider selection to choose from, I am hoping that my ELL students will benefit from the 10 minutes of silent reading as much as my gen ed students do."
KEEP READING SPIRITS ALIVE
Village Oaks Elementary – Justin Haas
"In third grade we strive to instill a LOVE of reading in all of our students. As teachers we aspire to expose students to culture, diversity, and a variety of backgrounds, including those of themselves and their peers. This grant would go towards purchasing picture books for the third graders at Village Oaks. Teachers will read a book a day for the school year to their classes. The lessons learned and the love for culturally rich texts will create students who are sensitive to others and eager to read and learn more. The books will be used year after year and the lessons learned will be spread from child to child. Donalyn Miller says, "Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters – the saints and the sinners, real or imagined – reading shows you how to be a better human being." Reading a picture book every single day of the school year helps build a community of positivity and understanding. Whether it's the words, pictures, or the conversations that follow, the students will greatly benefit from these picture books. "
DEERFIELD COMMUNITY GARDEN
Deerfield – Sherry Griesinger, Julie Alliston, Jill Armstrong, Jennifer Stevenson, Claire Carty
Our 2018-2019 Deerfield Community Garden project was an amazing opportunity for our staff, students and their families to come together and provide for our fellow community members at Novi Feed the Need. This grant directly benefited our second graders, members of our community and immensely enhanced our plant and insect unit. Our Science unit focused on the interrelationship between plants and insects. Our Gardening project went far beyond that. This project became an incredibly authentic way to not only teach about plants and insects but also taught students responsibility and community involvement through hard work and empathy. Students became engaged in caring for and maintaining our gardens in order to provide to those who needed our help. Students met throughout the summer for regular garden harvest nights and even experienced a true "insect pest emergency." Our gardens truly made a huge difference in the lives of our students and even our staff. We learned of the hard work required to maintain and care for the gardens but also learned about community involvement and how our little gardens can help those in need. ** Our next plan would be to expand our garden area. We have four small gardens currently and would like to expand to six more (ten total). We have the perfect sunny area to place these new raised garden beds to allow for all 100 of our second graders to contribute to the garden area. Observers who visit our gardens would see ten beautiful gardens filled with crops of vegetables and herbs that will be donated to our community food banks. Students would be responsible for the care, maintenance and harvesting and families will work together with staff to truly make this a community project. Our goal would be to create a successful garden space for 100 students to learn and grow and become caring community members, knowing that they can make a difference.
Novi High School – Lily Stojanov
The direct beneficiaries of the therapy dog grant would be the students and staff at Novi high School. Milo has already started his training for being a therapy dog. He has made his appearance in my room as well as in the hallway during passing time. His presence calms and relaxes both students and staff. There are students and staff that seek him out because they are having a bad day, are stressed about assessments or just having a hard time due to friends, family etc. The goal is to elevate stress for students and staff members at Novi High School.
ACCESSIBLE COMMUNICATION ON THE PLAYGROUND
Parkview – Karen Wilkinson, Cassandra Griffin
The direct beneficiaries are students with complex communication needs as well as English Language Learners in Novi Schools, ranging in age from preschool through 6th grade. Students with complex communication needs may range from non-verbal, needing assistive communication, and/or demonstrate language delays compared to their same-aged peers. English Language Learners would also benefit from this visual support to communicate with English speaking peers and staff on the playground. Other beneficiaries include community members using the playgrounds throughout Novi Community School District.
Implementation would include a large, weatherproof sign (36” by 48”) with visuals paired with core vocabulary and fringe vocabulary (recess vocabulary, emotions, etc.) installed on all playgrounds used by students with complex communication needs and/or ELLs in the district. For some schools, 2 signs would be required to ensure equitable access for all students. Implementation will also include teachers, school social workers, and/or speech pathologists modeling appropriate use of the visual support with students. Peer to Peer students would also be able to provide peer modeling for students with complex communication needs.
The goal of this project is to increase accessible communication on the playground during authentic social and play opportunities. Students will have an increased voice to communicate their wants, needs, and feelings during recess. A desired outcome would be increased independence on the playground and more appropriate social/emotional skills on the playground. Students would require less adult prompting and increase their spontaneous communication, which is more developmentally appropriate.
ANIMALS IN THE CLASSROOM
Novi Meadows – Dave Cosman
"The beneficiaries of the grant are at the least my four classes of life science. I also have visitors from other classes, as well as with special needs (most are at wheelchair height). With the more severe cases now in the 5th grade house I haven't figured out how that could work this year, but I will still offer that possibility.
I think those that benefit the most are those kids who are not always able to make connections with others. I believe the kids feel at some level that because an animal does not judge/comment, they are safe and happy to just be with one. I have many, many kids who stay in for lunch recess and go to the animals during any free time to bolster that perception. In addition, all my classes get to experience a variety of critters firsthand, not relying just on pictures in a textbook or the computer. Many kids have never seen or touched basic local organisms (turtles, toads, etc.), especially if they have been discouraged from doing so. The connection to a student is one aspect of this experience, while learning how to care, manage and be responsible for an animal also has its benefits.
The implementation of this grant can already be seen as the critters are here now. Students are involved at times during class times, lunch recess and extended times over weekends and vacations. The critters are also used to enrich our current FOSS science units (Diversity of Life & Populations and Ecosystems). Some of the critters I have are in our textbook and are real-life examples, rather than looking in a book or using black/white copies.
The goal of this project is to significantly motivate kids to learn life science in a manner that would not without the animals. The desired outcome is to have as many kids involved with the critters in the ways described above.
FLEXIBLE SEATING IN THE FIRST GRADE
Parkview Elementary – Allison Hartmus
This grant would benefit my 24 students this school year, as well as any students I will have in the future. This grant would provide multiple flexible seating options for my students to use in my classroom every day. To an observer, the implementation of this grant would look like students getting their work done in a place that is successful for them. Students like to be comfortable and engaged and providing these flexible seating options would be extremely visible to an outsider who could come into our classroom. The goal of this project is to give students more options in our classroom to be comfortable and successful, while completing their work and staying on task. The desired outcome would be a classroom full of several seating options that appeal to first graders.
DIVERSIFYING CLASSROOM LIBRARIES WITH OWNVOICE TEXTS
Orchard Hills – Kassia Massey, Phelan Smith, Ashley Martin, Lauren Miller, Erin LaPorte
There is a large racial gap in the children’s book publishing. In the United States, books featuring White characters made up about 50% of published stories. However, only 1% featured Native American characters, 5% featured Latinx characters, 7% featured Asian or Pacific Islander characters, and 10% featured African American characters. Books with animal or other non-human main characters (making up 27% of books published in 2018) outnumbered those featuring Black, Native, Latinx, and Asian characters, combined (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2018). While this publishing gap exists in the market for new children’s books, we do not believe this discrepancy should show up in our classroom libraries. We believe our classroom libraries should reflect the diverse, multicultural, and inclusive environment that we aspire to foster within our classroom.
This proposal seeks to add diverse texts to each of the 4th grade classroom libraries at Orchard Hills. Due to the simple fact that we don’t control the publishing market for children’s books, it’s essential that we take thoughtful and intentional steps to diversify our libraries. With help from the Seattle Public Library, we have compiled a list of #OwnVoices texts, which are books that not only feature characters from marginalized groups, but are written by authors who share an identity with the main character. For example, if a book features a Mexican-American character, it is written by a Mexican-American author. We believe this is an important aspect of having a diverse library-- making sure that our libraries showcase talented authors from many backgrounds, groups, and communities. While previously we highlighted discrepancies in racial representation in children’s books, our #OwnVoices booklist proposal goes beyond race and ethnicity. We strongly believe our libraries should represent the diverse world we live in. Therefore, our booklist proposal also includes, but is not limited to, books with characters with disabilities, LGBTQ characters, characters with family stories of immigration, and characters from different religious backgrounds.
EXPANDING LANGUAGE THROUGH WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS
Novi Woods – Megan Haapala
The NW English Language Learner population will directly benefit from this grant. At Novi Woods, approximately 29% of our school population are ELs. The implementation of this grant would allow EL students to foster their love of reading in a non-intimidating way. Wordless picture books are a way for all students to have access to reading materials they fully understand- no one reads it “right” or “wrong”.
The goal of this project is to provide better access to literacy for our EL population. By putting wordless picture books into their hands, the EL students can enjoy the love of reading while accessing all 4 strands of language development- listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
EXPANSION OF NOVI WOODS FOSTERING ACCEPTANCE LIBRARY
Novi Woods – Gabriella Franciosi
Novi Woods Elementary School’s Fostering Acceptance Library is a collection of books for students and staff that helps to promote inclusion, acceptance, and understanding surrounding the diverse needs of our student population as well as increase social emotional learning for all students. With the ability to purchase new books, our library would reach even more students and staff members all while improving the overall sense of community among the entire population at Novi Woods. This library would be placed in an accessible location and our school social worker would work to educate staff about the variety of topics covered by these books. Staff members could utilize the library to introduce or revisit topics to their classrooms as needs arise. Topics that will be included in our library include disability awareness with books about Autism, ADHD, physical disabilities and more as well as books about friendship, changes in family dynamics, mental health awareness, mindfulness, behavior topics, emotional regulation, and more. Our current collection of books has about 70 titles and the goal of this project is to expand our library with over 50 additional books that include more topics which will ultimately support an increased feeling of community and support for all students while focusing on social emotional learning for all.
SOCIAL JUSTICE BOOK CLUB
Parkview Elementary – Ally Sanchez, Lori Garner, Karen Wilkinson, Erica Decker
We are developing a family-friendly book club to support families in talking about diversity and the challenging topics that are associated with it. Our objective for this book club is for students and their families to be able to talk about race and ethnicity, gender, dis/ability, language diversity, religion, and other challenging topics related to identity and diversity in a respectful and open-minded manner. We have received feedback from parents who want to have these conversations but aren’t sure where to start and would like some support. In order to support families, we will host a book club a few times throughout the year. Books and discussions will be centered on one or more topics of diversity and will be selected by a committee of parents and teachers based on family interests. These books will serve as a foundation for beginning healthy and age-appropriate conversations with children.
This idea is innovative because we are bringing teachers, parents, and students together to have conversations that so many are afraid to have. We plan to have our meetings be accessible to everyone by having food and activities that are appropriate for all ages and abilities. Through the book club, parents and teachers alike will develop confidence to lead these conversations with children, and develop a stronger bond and sense of community within our school.
Parents and teachers will collect a field of book choices from which students can select for our club focus. In this way, the club meetings will focus on the issues students are most interested in learning and talking about. Within topics/issues, students will have a variety of books from which to choose to read with their families.
At least 24 families from all grade levels at Parkview will be directly impacted during the first year (although we may have different families participating in each club, so that number may increase). Additionally, some families have reached out wanting to participate “virtually” due to worries about scheduling and participating in meetings in person. By sharing book lists and discussion questions, there may be a wider impact our first year than anticipated. We expect that after the first meeting and first year, word will spread and the group will grow much larger.
NATC CREATIVE ART & DESIGN INCUBATOR
Novi Adult Transition Center – Joe Pruchnik, Sebrina Shields
It is important to understand the impact of low employment opportunities that people with disabilities face. Michigan has a slight advantage in that it is the only state that offers students with disabilities the opportunity to continue their education and job skill training to age 26. As fortunate as we are in Michigan, nationally, the Autism Alliance of Michigan stated that 75 to 90% of adults with autism are unemployed (June 2017).
The Novi Adult Transition Center (NATC) Micro Business, created with grant funded by the Novi Educational Foundation (NEF) is currently on schedule to begin in mid-October. We are currently looking to expand our products beyond “fur-baby baskets”. Our concept includes will include an in-house “NATC Creative Art and Design Incubator that operates and provides customers’ products in multiple ways.
Students will create projects from concept to creation and sell them online, as a roving store and in brick and mortar facilities (such as Mod Market in Northville). In order to fulfill this business model, we will need new machinery, equipment and supplies to develop new products (t-shirts, pens, mugs, coffee cart, etc.). Currently NATC students plan, assemble and promote the sales of theme-based-basket for pet owners, such as holiday and event baskets (e.g. Birthdays, Holidays, etc.). Students are going out into the community to places such as the Mod Market in Northville and craft fairs to sell these gift baskets. We are looking to expand this model.
Our students will benefit directly from this incubator and the goal is to demonstrate and apply the Micro-business model into application from idea concept to customer satisfaction. The desired outcome is for students to realize entrepreneurship as an option to become self-sufficient after graduation.
To an observer, they would see our students in brainstorming sessions, at workstations, or interacting with customers. They would see students taking inventory, sorting items or reconciling financial accounting of products sold."