LEF 20th

Document Sample
LEF 20th Powered By Docstoc
					10 |    Lexington’s Colonial Times        Magazine FEBRUARY | MARCH 2009

                                                                                                                         LEF TURNS 20All volunteer, community supported ,
                                                                                                                                         Lexington Education Foundation
                                                                                                                     Celebrates Partnership with the Lexington Public Schools
                                                                                                                     invaluable. Today Davey wants
                                                                                                                     to see if the students understood
                                                                                                                     the nuances of their last reading
                                                                                                                           Sure enough, when the
                                                                                                                     action begins the responses
                                                                                                                     help to parse out confusion
                                                                                                                     in the issues surrounding
                                                                                                                     Hamilton and Jefferson and the
                                                                                                                     constitutionality of the national
                                                                                                                     bank. The responses spark a
                                                                                                                     lively classroom debate.
                                                                                                                           “If you look around here
                                                                                                                     [his classroom], it’s not only is
                                                                                                                     this system—it’s this projector,
                                                                                                                     this board—all are from
                                                                                                                     different LEF grants,” Davey
                                                                                                                     says. “These are real tools. The
Row 1: Deborah Rourke, Cynthia Piltch, Row 2: Jim DeVellis, Jill Gasperini, Elaine Hooper, Row 3: Janine Cohen,      cost is significant, but the tools
Mary Ellen Alessandro, Saana McDaniel, Row 4: John Miller, Diane Abe, Sue Schiffer, Deborah Lapides, Row 5: Lynn     have really helped me as a teacher
McLaughlin, Elisabeth Donahue, Jane Wolfman, Row 6: Phyllis Neufeld, Jean Birnberg, James Cavallo, Row 7: Anna       to try to improve and adapt to
Afeyan, Nancy White, Judy Craver, Carol Colman, Row 8: Carol Pilarski, Kelly Tzannes, Karen Kristin, Row 9: Vito
LaMura, Jean Kurien, Jennifer Vogelzang, Ann Redmon, Mising members: Christina Cohen, Margaret Coppe (ex officio),   new things.” The students love
Michael Duffy, Jill Hai, Douglas Luckerman and George Murnaghan.                                                     the clickers. Recently the class
                                                                                                                     overwhelmingly chose to take
                                                                                                                     their last exam using the clickers
                                                                                            student’s desk.          over the “old” way according to
                                                                                                  Clicker            Davey.
                                                                                            technology, which              This is what LEF is all
                                                                                            is sweeping schools      about: Innovation, teacher
                                                                                            and colleges             enthusiasm,          cutting-edge
                                                                                            nationwide, is here      technology        and      student
                                                                                            in Mr. Davey’s           engagement.
                                                                                            classroom because        TWENTY YEARS OF
                                                                                            of a Lexington           GRANTMAKING
                                                                                                                           Lexington is to be
                                                                                            Foundation (LEF)
                                                                                                                     congratulated. For twenty
                                                                                                                     years now, the residents of this
                                                                                                  The clickers       community have supported an
                                                                                            are       used     in    organization that has quietly
                                                                                            conjunction with a       supported our public schools.
                                                                                            PC and a SMART           Standing on the shoulders of
                                                                                            Board and allow Mr.      a committed community, this Dan Fenn, Kerry Brandin and Florence Koplow discuss the
                                                                                            Davey to interact                             all-volunteer early days of LEF
Left to Right: Kate Powers, John Buschini and Abbey Brainard register their responses                                hard-working,
with their clickers in Mr. Davey's (front of class) American History class at Clarke Middle with his students        organization has grown and
School.                                                                                     quickly. “There are      flourished into the impressive
                                                                                            a variety of things      entity we call the Lexington
By Laurie Atwater                                                                           you can do with          Education Foundation (LEF). You may not "We provide a benefit that allows Lexington to
      Walk into Ed Davey’s class at Clarke                    this technology,” Davey says as we waited for          realize the many ways in which LEF has retain and recruit the very best teachers because
Middle Schools and you won’t hear him say class to convene. “You get immediate feedback                              contributed to the education of the children of the opportunities LEF provides. That’s what
“open your books”—instead, Mr. Davey on how well the group or an individual student                                  of Lexington, but it is fair to say that most of I want as a parent—to have the best teachers,"
stands at the door ushering his students in to is doing on a certain task. I can find out if a                       the innovative programs scattered throughout DeVillis says.
U.S. History and instructing them to “grab a student is struggling, so it’s very helpful.”                           the schools have been sprinkled with the fairy       When teachers have great ideas for new
clicker.”                                                            . With this system you can also administer      dust that is LEF grant money. Current Co- programs, new technology they or want to
      As the middle-schoolers plop into their                 quizzes, poll the students, test certain skills—the    Presidents Deborah Rourke and Jim DeVellis learn about new methods of teaching, they turn
seats and begin to organize their materials                   list is endless. The instant response loop allows      are excited about this opportunity to celebrate to LEF for support. The Harrington Mural,
a white remote sits amid the jumble on each                   Davey to adjust his teaching in real-time. It’s        this organization on its twentieth anniversary.
                                                                                                                                                                                           LEF, continued on page 33
                                                                                                         FEBRUARY | MARCH 2009 Lexington’s Colonial Times      Magazine | 11

"I am continually inspired by Lexington’s

commitment to our children, our schools and
our town. LEF is an embodiment of Lexington’s
values ~ our long-standing tradition of educational
excellence and the belief that strong schools are vital
to the well-being of our community. LEF enables                                                    EXCITING PROGRAMS FUNDED
parents, individuals and businesses to partner with
                                                                                                      THROUGH LEF GRANTS
educators to bring fresh ideas, new technology and
innovative instruction into our classrooms."                          Avon Lewis                         to estimate the use of the items    the supplies and fund the
                                                                                                         in their house from written         development of the materials.
                       Current LEF Co-President Deborah Rourke        Earth Science, LHS                 tables with average outputs for     “An enormous amount of
                                                                      Kill-a-Watts                       common appliances things like       time has gone into writing
                                                                      Avon Lewis is an Earth             toasters,” Lewis explains. “The     the documents that make the
                                                                      Science teacher at Lexington       students really didn’t believe in   project possible. At least once
                                                                      High School.                       the numbers, so their buy-in        a month I get an inquiry from
                                                   HHH                                                   to the program wasn’t good.         another school system that
                                                                      “The two LEF grants I’ve           So we wrote a grant for these       wants to do a similar program
                                                   More Grants on     received in the past two have      devices that actually let the       so it’s become a point of
                                                      Page 33         had a huge impact on the way       students measure the energy         leadership,” Lewis says.
                                                                      we teach earth science,” she       output in their home. We
                                                                      says.                                                                  “Because we’ve had this grant
                                                                                                         bought enough so that each          we’ve been able to develop
                                                                      As part of the 9th grade earth     kid could take one of these         this program that’s not only
                                                                      science curriculum, they had       devices home for two weeks.         been great for our community
Steve Solly                         you can use it as a gateway to    been working on a project to
                                    more active sports.”                                                 The data is much better and         but has been used by others
PhysEd, LHS                                                           try to get freshman to look        the students are learning           as well.”
                                    “Because of the grant we will     at their household’s energy        hands-on so the buy-in has
Recreational Activities             be able to offer 10 sections      footprint.                         gone way up.”
Solly wrote a grant to fund a       of Recreational Activities this   “The first year the students had
physical Education class called     spring. Every couple of lessons                                      The LEF grant helped to buy

Recreational Activities.            the activities will change and
“I got the idea because I wanted    we’ll offer Bocce, Horseshoes,              Don't Miss LEF's Gala Celebration
to offer some alternative           Shuffleboard, Table Tennis and
things that might engage a kid      Croquet.”                                  March 21, 2009 from 6:30-Midnight
that’s turned off by the more       According to Solly this is yet               Westin Waltham-Boston Hotel
traditional programs,” Solly        another addition to a pretty
says.                               impressive portfolio of non-                    Tickets are on sale now!
“The research that I was            traditional Physical Education                      Call 781-372-3288,
studying showed that if kids can    classes offered at LHS. “We
have some positive success at       have a class called fitness                   email lexed@att.net or visit
lower intensity activities that     walking and we also offer yoga           lexedfoundation.org for more info.
focus on the social component,      and Pilates.”

                                                                      Lucia Gates                        developed at The Stone Center       the staff was able to go to
                                                                                                         in Wellesley. “They began           the Open Circle training as a
                                                                      Guidance                           doing research into SEL and         group. “The energy of having
                                                                      Counselor, Bridge                  found that there was nothing        the entire teaching staff in one
                                                                      Open Circle/K-5                    out there that met the needs        place, learning something new,
                                                                                                         so they developed Open Circle       feeding off each other trying
                                                                      Social Competency                  based on the research they          things—it was marvelous!
                                                                      “Our site-based council at         were doing,” Gates says.            That was a joint effort between
                                                                      Bridge did a survey that           “The beauty of Open Circle          LEF funding the actual training
                                                                      revealed students weren’t          is that it is a comprehensive       costs and the system picking
                                                                      feeling as emotionally safe        program. It is K-5 and              up the cost of substitutes—it
                                                                      as we would have liked,” she       thankfully because of LEF it’s      was marvelous.”
                                                                      explains.                          been implemented in every           After the implementation of
                                                                      As a result she wrote a grant      classroom in all six elementary     the program they administered
                                                                      to support Open Circle, a          schools,” Gates says. Bridge        the survey again and found
                                                                      robust program that helps          and Bowman were the first           a significant improvement.
                                                                      kids develop problem solving       schools that were funded to         Anecdotally the teachers found
                                                                      skills—what is known as SEL        do the whole school approach        a great improvement in hallway
                                                                      (social emotional learning).       and then the others followed.       and playground behavior as
                                                                      The Open Circle program was        Because of their LEF grant,         well.
                                                                                                                   FEBRUARY | MARCH 2009 Lexington’s Colonial Times      Magazine | 33

LEF, continued from page 11              Dan Fenn and Kerry Brandin
                                         reflected on those early days in an

Big Backyard, Open Circle, Project       interview for the 20th Anniversary
Adventure and SMART Boards and           celebration DVD.
the brand new program with the                 “Phil Geiger was the
Lexington Symphony (see story on         Superintendent at the time and he
page 24) are a few of the programs
funded through LEF grants
                                         came to me sometime in 1988,”                                            EXCITING PROGRAMS FUNDED
                                         recalls Dan Fenn, Founding Chair
throughout the years.                    of LEF, “and talked to me about                                             THROUGH LEF GRANTS
      These innovative projects along    community foundations to support
with professional development and        the schools.” Geiger had good
teacher mentoring are not provided       instincts when he asked Fenn to
                                                                                   Valerie Franks,                 on projects that addressed          something,       testing    it
for in the regular school budget.        lead the charge—Fenn was the the
                                                                                                                   engineering and design.             rebuilding it and presenting
They are the “extras” that move          Founding Director of the Kennedy          Science                         Specifically the LEF funded         their ideas to the class in a
Lexington beyond average and help        Library knew his way around town
our students to thrive and compete.      politics as well.
                                                                                   Diamond Middle                  13 laptops, a cart an               Power Point presentation,”
      LEF is a vital organization              Dan reflects that Lexington         SchoolIntegrating               Enfocus box and software.           Franks explains.
because Lexington gets it: The best      was “bitterly divided politically         Technology and                  “For example the 8th grade          “LEF has provided us with
thing we can do for our students         in those days.” He calls it the “we/      Engineering                     is working on a project             this new technology. The
is to attract and retain the very        they” thing and he knew that the                                          around bridges following the        laptops are very mobile
best teachers and the best thing         new foundation had to find a way          Design                          technology standards for            so they are time efficient
we can do for                                                                      “We are required by the         the design and engineering          and we can integrate all
our teachers                                                                       state to meet objectives        process. The students do            kinds of mass media into
is to provide                                                                      in science strands that         some      research—they’re          our teaching. The kids are
structure,                                                                         focus on technology and         gathering        information        used to this at home and
support,                                                                           engineering,”     Franks        and they’re drawing up              now we have it right here at
stability and                                                                      says. The grant covered         prototypes of their own.            our fingertips,” Franks says.
opportunities                                                                      technology that could be        Then they’re constructing           “As a science department
for professional                                                                   used by all three grades                                            we are technologically
growth.                                                                                                                                                advanced.”
      This very
concept is often
obscured        by                                                                 Susan Bennett,                                                      where it all happened.”
the politics of                                                                                                    “The Society realized a few
running a school                                                                   Director                        years back that its education       “So we applied for the LEF
district. They                                                                     Lexington                       programs for visiting school        grant and we also got funding
are definitely                                                                     Historical Society              groups were really outmoded.        from the Massachusetts
challenged           Box City at the Mariah Hastings School                                                        In particular they didn’t further   Foundation for the Humanities
when economic                                                                      Colonial Life and               curriculum standards that           Massachusetts Society of the
times are tough,                                                                   the American                    the teachers have to follow,”       Cincinnati and we basically
but amid the din                          to exist outside the maelstrom of        Revolution                      Susan Bennett explains.             threw everything out and
of opinions on the subject of public      town politics or it would be sucked                                      “Much to our dismay we were         started from scratch. Our
education, good teachers are at the       into the vortex. “It was clear to me     The Lexington Historical        finding that a lot of the classes   focus is on 3rd 5th and 8th grade
heart of any meaningful discussion        that the first thing to do was to put    Society and former Lexington    in Lexington were going out of      and to some extent American
about quality schools.                    together a board that bridged the        High School teacher and         town to Concord to do their         History students at the high
      That’s where the LEF story          gap,” he says. “So we had political      archivist Dick Kollen has       units on Colonial Life and the      school.
begins—with the huge financial            conservatives and political liberals     received two LEF grants         American Revolution.”
challenge posed by the passage of         on that first board.”                    over the past two years. The                                        In addition to Historical Society
Proposition 2 ½.                                Fenn says Alan Fields, who
                                                                                   grants have been used for       “We felt that every Lexington       staff, they have had a team of
                                          was “so critical to the whole effort
                                                                                   curriculum development for      student at least a couple of        teachers—Vicky Schwartz,
                                          from the start” suggested he go
                                                                                   American history units K-8.     points in their school career       Leslie Colby, Matthew Mehler
      In 1988 Lexington citizens were
                                          after Kerry Brandon for the board.
                                                                                   This is a perfect example of    should visit the historic           and Mary Morris—from the
worried. Concern about the effects of
                                          Kerry had kids in the schools at the
                                                                                   how LEF has reached out         houses and tour the green           Lexington schools working
Proposition 2 ½ (passed in 1980) on
                                          time and was just coming off the
                                                                                   beyond the schools to engage    and learn about Revolutionary       with them. “They’ve helped
the quality of the Lexington Public
                                          very successful Center Playground
                                                                                   the community.                  War history right here in town      us develop programs and now
Schools was growing. Prior to 2 ½
                                          project.                                                                                                     they’re bringing classes in to
the community had supported the
                                                Kerry joined the effort because                                                                        pilot them,” Bennett says.
schools generously. Lexingtonians
had always embraced support for           “there was real concern about funds
the schools as a shared community         being more and more restricted,
                                          things getting cut and teacher                 To find out more about making a contribution, applying for a grant or LEF's Gala
      With the adoption of 2 ½ the        morale.” She was surrounded by               Celebration on March 21, 2009, visit the LEF website at: www.lexedfoundation.org
                                          board members whose kids had gone
dynamic shifted and the resulting                                                   where you will also find information about our mission, grant programs and much more.
school cuts alarmed school                through the schools pre-Prop 2 ½.
administrators and residents alike.       “They brought that memory of the           Lexington Education Foundation is an independent 501 (c) (3) charitable organization.
                                                       LEF, continued on page 36
36 |   Lexington’s Colonial Times     Magazine FEBRUARY | MARCH 2009

LEF, continued from page 33
                                                    School Administration building on Mass. Ave.]       attention to developing a sustainable model             One of the workshop projects allowed
"glory days" when there was a lot of money and      to see what the response would be” Brandin          for LEF with the LEF Endowment Fund. This          her to work intensely with the math specialists
the school system was able to initiate a lot of     says. “The mail just poured in.”                    fund was designed to take LEF into the future      to develop differentiated binders for math
new ideas,” she says.                                     “I think we had a pretty strong feeling       and reduce their total dependence on revenues      learners. “Summer workshops allow us to do
     What really struck Brandin her in the          after those first few months, given that first      from yearly fundraising.                           these very important things in a concentrated
beginning was just how many board members           response, that this dog was going to hunt, and                                                         period of time,” she says. As part of their
                                                                                                             “We held between three and five
did not have children in the schools. “Probably     it did so wonderfully,” Fenn adds.                                                                     continued commitment the math specialists
                                                                                                        community-wide focus groups to engage the
                                                                  With its structure designed, the                                                         meet on six Mondays throughout the year to
                                                                                                        community to determine whether there would
                                                            logistics which were “appallingly                                                              work together and share techniques. “Through
                                                                                                        be interest in an endowment,” says Nicholson
                                                            difficult” according to Fenn, in place                                                         their commitment to district-wide Summer
                                                                                                        who is now the Massachusetts Director for
                                                            and the first grant made, LEF was ready                                                        Workshops, LEF has supported this innovative
                                                                                                        Stand for Children. “What we heard from
                                                            to expand its fundraising capability and                                                       and extraordinary opportunity for us to think as
                                                                                                        parents was that they were really interested
                                                            take it up a notch.                                                                            a community about how we can best meet our
                                                                                                        in providing more grants for teachers and
                                                                                                                                                           goals for student performance,” Pilarski says.
                                                            EDUCATED TASTES                             looking at multi-year investments in teacher
                                                                                                                                                           LEF also provides support for Professional
                                                            To hear Fenn tell it, there was never       quality. They were interested in providing a
                                                                                                                                                           Learning Communities (PLCs). Research has
                                                            a doubt that board member Florence          resource that would really make a difference
                                                                                                                                                           shown that PLCs, which encourage supportive
                                                            Koplow was the person to put Educated       in Lexington’s ability to recruit and retain
                                                                                                                                                           teacher networks and collaboration, increase
                                                            Tasted on the map.                          teachers.”
                                                                                                                                                           teacher efficacy in meeting students’ needs
                                                                   “I had a phone call from Dan Fenn         Nicholson says that the committee             and ultimately improve the school culture.
                                                            and he said “Florence do you think we       received enough positive feedback to know
                                                                                                                                                                This overarching support for system-wide
                                                            could meet for coffee and I thought,        that “we were on to something and we knew
                                                                                                                                                           professional development and collaboration
                                                            ‘something is up’” Koplow smiles.           that we could raise enough money to make it
                                                                                                                                                           has sistered beautifully with their program
                                                            “He came over and he said, ‘You have        worthwhile and provide sustainable funding.”
                                                                                                                                                           of providing competitive grants to individual
                                                            been unanimously selected to run our        Ultimately the committee spent two years
                                                                                                                                                           teachers. This year grants were awarded
                                                            first fundraiser!’” Koplow rolls her eyes   building the case for the endowment and
                                                                                                                                                           across a wide spectrum of disciplines: visiting
                                                            remembering, “And I said, ‘yeah Dan,        making the pitch to families all over town.
                                                                                                                                                           poets, social cognition, a traverse climbing
                                                            there must have been a line of people at    “We took gifts of ten dollars and gifts of a lot
                                                                                                                                                           wall, printmaking, technology integration and
                                                            your door!’”                                more,” Nicholson says. “We got to about 1.3
                                                                                                                                                           more. LEF will award approximately $320,000
                                                                                                        million in two and a half years.”
                                                                   Koplow soon found out what                                                              for such grants this year.
                                                            she had gotten herself into. “The idea      COMMITMENT & SUPPORT                                    Since 1991, LEF has awarded more than
                                                            of Educated Tastes came from Alan           Throughout the years the LEF Board has been        $2.7 million in grants. Dr. Ash praised LEF in
                                                            Fields,” she explains. Fields’ wife Gail    a virtual who’s-who in Lexington. Talented         a recent Our Schools column stating, “When I
                                                            worked for a nonprofit in Concord that      members have contributed to the newsletter,        go to recruit teachers, the concept of and LEF
Above: Educated Tastes & The Bee                            ran essentially the same program. “I        the website and the production of a video and      grant for innovative programming is a lure to
                                                           went to see that event,” Koplow says.        countless hours have gone into the rigorous        work in Lexington.”
half of the board members were people who had
                                                    “It wasn’t something that was simple; it was        evaluation of grant applications.                       Lexingtonians have shown an enduring
risen up in the community—whose kids were
                                                    very complicated.” Koplow put together what               As dynamic as the structure of LEF is        support for LEF. Over the past twenty years the
doing well thanks to the experience they had
with the school system and they felt indebted
                                                    she says was a “marvelous committee” and            and has been, the focus of their work is what      all-volunteer leadership of LEF has reflected
                                                    they began the process of creating one of the       impresses most. LEF has had a very clear           the diversity and the incredible dedication
to it—it was impressive,” she says.
                                                    most successful community-wide fundraisers          strategy of providing grants to individual         that distinguishes the community. Current
      There was a feeling that Lexington            in Lexington.                                       teachers to improve their practice and their       co-President Deborah Rourke is a lifelong
was falling behind after so many years of
                                                          From the onset Koplow had four goals:         content understanding and to pursue new            Lexington resident. “Volunteering for LEF
investment and the idea of raising private funds
                                                    to increase awareness of LEF, to bring the          ideas, creative solutions and new technology.      has given me a special opportunity to show
“really struck a nerve” with people according
                                                    community together, to raise funds and to           All is designed to enhance their student’s         my thanks to the wonderful teachers I had and
to Brandin.
                                                    throw a fabulous fun party. “I will say that        experience in the classroom.                       the great education I received, growing up in
      From the beginning however, a very            I think we succeeded in every one of those                                                             Lexington as a student at Harrington, Muzzey
important distinction was drawn. The                                                                          In addition, LEF has provided money
                                                    goals," she laughs.                                 to the school administration for systemic          Junior High School and LHS,” she says. LEF
foundation would not supplement the school                                                                                                                 is constantly looking for new, energetic board
                                                          “Lexington really didn’t have any             development that contribute to the dynamic
budget. “We were very aware of the “slippery                                                                                                               members.
                                                    community gathering,” Koplow says. “When            evolution of the culture and practices of the
slope” because of 2 ½,” Brandin states, “Private
                                                    you walked in [to Educated Tastes] with the         Lexington schools. Each year LEF awards                 The fund is totally supported by local
funds could never fill the gap.” Moreover, LEF
                                                    music playing…and the marvelous food and            community grants to schools to assist them in      residents and businesses who contribute
did not want the foundation used as an excuse
                                                    people seeing each other in a way that was          meeting their school-wide goals. This year LEF     at a wide range of levels. The majority of
to further cut taxes.
                                                    different than they usually saw each other—in       awarded $54,000 in community grants divided        contributions to LEF come in the form of
      Fenn notes that they received their first     a social situation—it was wonderful, it was                                                            gifts up to $99. LEF is also supported by
                                                                                                        among the schools and the superintendent’s
corporate contribution of $10K from Raytheon        exciting!”                                          office.                                            local businesses who take an interest in the
in 1991 and that money, in combination with               The money raised from Educated Tastes                                                            Lexington schools.
funds from their first annual appeal, allowed                                                                 Carol Pilarski, Assistant Superintendent
                                                    provided the back bone for LEF’s fundraising        for Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional           This year LEF will celebrate their 20th
LEF to make the first grants.                       along with the Staff Teacher Appreciation           Development, is thrilled that LEF has              anniversary with a special Anniversary Gala to
      “The trick was to give it some reality from   and Recognition (STAR) program, the annual                                                             be held on Saturday, March 21st at the Westin-
                                                                                                        supported district-wide summer workshops
the beginning,” Fenn notes, “so that people         appeal and the contributions that came in from                                                         Waltham Boston Hotel. This evening of dinner
                                                                                                        that have allowed Lexington teachers and
could see that grants were being made—that          the slips enclosed with property tax bills.                                                            and dancing is sure to be the social event of the
                                                                                                        administrators to focus intensely on various
things were happening.”                                                                                                                                    season and your opportunity to join in the fun
                                                    TOWARD SUSTAINAbIlITY                               aspects of curriculum development. Pilarski
      The early days were full of excitement.                                                           says this has allowed them to “collaborate and     and celebrate this organization that has given
When the first annual appeal went out members       In 1999, Board members Leslie Nicholson,
                                                    Stana Gnatovich and Jules Pieri turned their        continuously find ways to advance in what          so much to the community.
“rushed down to the White House [the former                                                             they do.”

Shared By: