This fall, the BEF awarded a grant of $1,611 to the Kindergarten and First Grade Teachers at Pembroke Elementary School for the purchase of nonfiction books for their classroom. In the grant application the teachers explained that they are trying to incorporate nonfiction literature in to their curriculum all year long, but found that their classroom libraries contained far more fiction than nonfiction.
Funds from the grant were used to purchase 6 books packs, each with 60 books, for a total of 360 new books for their classes!
Ms. Djokaj said "Our new nonfiction books have given our students the opportunity to dig deeper on concepts. The class is eager to learn and record their findings after each read! We are so grateful for the BEF! Students are constantly telling me that they have learned new ideas from our grant books! Thank you so much!!"
Ms. Djokaj asked the students what they thought of the books. They said:
“I like our new books because I can learn about new things I didn’t know about.”
“I like that we have more new books in our classroom”
“I like our new non-fiction books because they teach you things!”
“They have really cool pictures!”
The common core standards are heavily based on non-fiction, informational texts and the strategies that students need to learn from nonfiction texts. Having these exciting new books in their class will help the students to develop skills that will help them throughout their education!
Proceeds used to support innovative teacher-led programs to enhance learning opportunities
The Birmingham Education Foundation has launched its annual fund campaign to raise funds from the community and businesses to support exceptional educational experiences for all Birmingham Public School students.
BEF is particularly proud that 100% of all elementary school teachers, plus the vast majority of middle and high school teachers donate to the fund. “Our teachers are our front line ambassadors,” said Alison Hendry, BEF’s executive director. “When they have innovative and fun ideas to better reach and inspire their classroom students, they know that BEF grants are available and can often provide the necessary funding to make the ‘extras’ happen.”
BEF typically returns about $150,000 to BPS classrooms to help inspire students and nurture their passion in art, athletics, robotics, science, math, literature or service learning projects. The BPS 2016 state of the district annual report describes the need for BEF as follows:
“Why do we need an Education Foundation for Birmingham Public Schools?” The simple answer is this - the kids! It is difficult to predict what will inspire a student, so BEF resources are used to expand on the exceptional curriculum provided by BPS.
“Sometimes it is the little things that make a difference, like studying bees in science class all year long, or visiting a planetarium to help solidify that astronomy lesson. It could also be bigger things, like attending the global finals competition for champion problem solvers, or visiting with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to learn appreciation for the fine arts and music. The BEF has supported literacy programs, helped at-risk students, provided the extras to make a program better or stronger and supported the teachers who come up with better ways to deliver curriculum to their students.”
Please consider supporting the annual fund and investing in our community and our children. Your gift will help the BEF support even more eye-opening and inspirational experiences for students this school year. Making a gift is easy. Give online at www.supportbef.org or mail a donation to:
Birmingham Education Foundation
31301 Evergreen Road
Beverly Hills, Mi
On behalf of BEF, we are so incredibly Thankful for your support! For more information or to discuss sponsorship opportunities, contact Alison Hendry at 248-203-3030 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On October 6, 100 seventh grade students had the opportunity to participate in Challenge Day at Berkshire Middle School, thanks to a partnership between the BEF, the Berkshire PTA and Berkshire Middle School.
Students spent 6.5 hours together with 26 adult volunteers and facilitators from the Challenge Day organization. The day began with a dance party (yes! a dance party at 8:30am), and then moved on to team building exercises, working to bring everyone together.
Once everyone was feeling pretty good, and comfortable around each other, the program turned toward the serious. Students and adult volunteers were given the chance to share about their life experiences in a family group, and to to get to know one another just a little better.
The afternoon culminated with "Cross the Line". an exercise meant to highlight how different life experiences have impacted each participant, and to show love to each other. Everyone present was visibly moved during and after this exercise.
From September 19-23, the Advanced Theater students at Groves High School had the opportunity to work with noted playwright, librettist and lyricist, thanks to Mr. John Rutherford and a $300 grant from the BEF!
Students spent the start of this year rehearsing scenes from Mr. Jones's play, Alabama Story, and then performed these scenes in front of Mr. Jones, who offered feedback to students.
“Having Mr. Jones here gave me a new perspective about theater. I’m so used to looking at things from the actor or director perspective that it was cool to get the playwright’s perspective. It was great to read the read play then see how the playwright envisioned it.” PJ Roberts, Groves Senior.
“I think this experience with Mr. Jones has been an incredible opportunity. Having the chance to speak with someone who has done so much and learn through his stories has been great.” Ryan Larson, Groves Senior.
Your donations to the BEF allow us to support opportunities just like this for our students. To make a donation today, visit the Give Today! section of our website.
On Tuesday, September 15, the BEF Board of Trustees held its first meeting of the 2016-2017 school year, and was able to award three grants to schools in our district!
The first grant of $300 was awarded to Mr. John Rutherford to bring a noted playwright, librettist and lyricist, Ken Jones, in to work with the Advanced Theater Production students at Groves! Mr. Jones will be in the classroom next week to work with students on scenes from his production Alabama Story.
The second grant was made to Berkshire Middle School, in the amount of $3,025 to support Berkshire Challenge Day. In October, facilitators from Challenge Day will visit the school for a one day, intensive workshop which "provides teens and adults with tools to tear down the walls of separation, and inspires participants to live, study and work in an encouraging environment of acceptance, love and respect." We can't wait to learn more about this great program!
The third grant of the evening was awarded to the health teachers at both Groves and Seaholm High Schools. This grant for $2,000 will allow the health teachers to once again present a speaker from "Mental Illness Needs Discussion" (MINDS) to students. Over the years, the students who have taken part in this program report that hearing first hand from someone who has struggled with mental illness and addiction has made an incredible impact on their lives, and the BEF is proud to be able to support this program again this year.
We also learned that our first Small, but Mighty Grant of the year had been awarded to four teachers at BCS to help them purchase supplies for a hydroponic garden they have in their classroom! The BEF Small but Mighty Grants are for requests of $250 and under, and are awarded more quickly than the traditional BEF grants. These grants are meant to help teachers fund those smaller items for their classes; the ones that teachers are tempted to pay for out of their own pocket. The BEF has allocated $5,000 for this program this year, and we can't wait to see what else our teachers come up with!
In closing, thank you so much to all in our community who support the BEF. It is because of you that our teachers and staff are able to supplement our children's education with these exciting and innovative experiences. Thank you!
Each fall, the BEF asks BPS staff and families to show their support for the BEF during our Annual Fund campaign, and we are continually grateful for and honored by the response we receive from you. Thank you. Did you know there are other ways that you can help us? Read on to find out more!
Earlier this year, you helped four, third and fourth grade classes at BCS purchase a hydroponic garden for their class. The original design was a farm on wheels, which could be moved to different classrooms. Well, what began as a lesson in the life cycle of plants became something else entirely...
The original hydroponic garden was built on to a cart, but when students came back on Monday after leaving the farm for the weekend, they found that the garden had sprung a leak. This lead to a call between all of the students and the manufacturer to figure out the problem. The manufacturer suggested mounting the farm on a wall at the school.
Soon, students, teachers and parent helpers were removing a section of old cupboards from in order to mount the farm to its new home on the wall. As time went by, the students and teachers continued to struggle with the Farm, eventually coming to recognize that the Farm was a flawed design and would not function properly.
The students then got a real life lesson - asking for a refund on a product that didn't work as advertised. The third and fourth graders, along with their teachers, began contacting the company to return the Farm and get a refund.
The happy news is that they were successful! The class used the refund to purchase a hydroponic tower garden, which is working great!
According to teacher, Scarlet Butzin, the new farm is working great and students love it. She says, "Our tower garden is now mobile and we can house it in one of our 4 classrooms. Having it in the classroom is the most fabulous gift. The kids just love having the garden in our classroom! They say it is calming and it sounds like we have an ocean in our classroom. It makes our room smell fresh and feel bright. I want this garden to stay in my classroom all year! It has transformed our community!"
BPS elementary students will have the opportunity to spend quality time with award winning author, Maria Dismondy, this week as part of the Author & Artist in Residency Program. Sponsored by the Birmingham Education Foundation (BEF), the Author & Artist in Residency Program links children in the BPS district with a real author or artist for real-life exposure to the arts.
“Thanks to the BEF, Greenfield Elementary along with seven other schools in Birmingham are honored and excited for the upcoming author visits with Maria Dismondy! Maria’s mission to empower children to be themselves is the theme of March Reading Month at Greenfield. Maria works to inspire boys and girls to write stories using their creativity. She encourages them to allow their individuality to pour into their writing through her books; Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun, Pink Tiara Cookies for Three, The Potato Chip Champ, Spoonful of Sweetness, Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!, and The Juice Box Bully. Her message of courage and kindness for students to ‘BE THE DIFFEFERNCE’ is contagious beginning with every student, spreading through classrooms, families, and throughout the Birmingham community. We are grateful for this opportunity to welcome Maria Dismondy!”
Dismondy, a Michigan resident, aims to empower children through her writing. Regarding her visit to BPS elementary schools, Dismondy says, "I am thrilled to be visiting the Birmingham School District. Sharing timeless messages in my books through school assemblies allows students to see how an author takes an idea through the writing process to create a published book. I am inspired to teach children necessary skills needed in life such as problem solving, empathy, kindness and more."
The Authors and Artists Program will continue later this spring, when author Eric Kahn Gale visits BPS middle schools to talk with students about his books, The Bully Book and The Zoo at the Edge of the World.
Many of you may know that March is Reading Month, but did you know that it is also Music in Our Schools month? To celebrate, we are highlighting the many ways that we support BPS music programs!
The BEF is proud to support the annual fourth grade field trip to experience a live performance of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, at Orchestra Hall in Detroit with a grant of $3,318. The fall program exposed students to a variety of music, from classical to contemporary, as well as introducing students to the instruments that make up the orchestra. The students were able to listen to a performance of Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter, and shout along to the DSO’s masterful performance of Mambo, from West Side Story. Feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive, as you can see below:
Berkshire Middle School has a new choir teacher this year, and Ms. Priebe is doing a terrific job! This November, she was awarded a $1,200 grant to purchase world drumming equipment for her sixth grade general music classes. In her grant request, Ms. Priebe said that it was her goal to use the equipment in conjunction with her background in music therapy to engage all of her students, especially the different learners in her class who often struggle to participate in daily classroom activities. On March 2, Ms. Priebe was able to put the drums to use in her Berkshire Middle School Spring Concert!
Students in the Groves Band and Seaholm Orchestra received support to bring musicians from the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings in to their classrooms, thanks to a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the BEF. Students had the opportunity to work in small groups, called sectionals, with professionals and to learn from their experiences.
The Groves Orchestra also had the opportunity to work with professional musicians this year. A $3,000 grant from the BEF supported bringing five string players from the DSO in to the school, including assistant concert master Hai Xin Wu. Orchestra director, Paul Shawver said, “Not every student has the opportunity to have world class musicians come right in to their classroom, and we are so thankful to the BEF for this grant and for supporting bringing DSO musicians in to work with our students here at Groves High School.”
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to take part in one of these sections with a top musician, take a look at the video below, featuring Hai Xin Wu working with the first violins.
The BEF is proud to support BPS music programs, and all of the more than 8,000 students attending Birmingham Public Schools! Thank you for helping to make these opportunities possible for our students.
In September the BCS third and fourth grade teams of Butzin/Frishman and Parkin/Wallington were awarded a grant of $627.50 to fund the construction of a "Farm on Wheels" for their classroom. The Farm is a hydroponic garden system that was initially meant to be wall mounted, but comes with the option to put it on a cart so that it can be moved from room to room as necessary.
Yesterday, with the help of parent volunteers, the students built their Farm!!
Mint plants growing in the zip towers.
Photo courtesy of Kennedy Schindler
The students have decided to sell the herbs grown in their garden. They will use 50% of profits to buy the supplies necessary to maintain the garden over the long term, and the other 50% will be donated to charity!
One of the parent volunteers, Jason Morgan, is the Executive Director of the Welcome Inn Day Center in Royal Oak. The center serves as a safe place for the homeless in our community to gather. The students have decided to thank Mr. Morgan by donating 50% of their sales to his organization.
Finally, to document the progress of the farm, students are taking pictures and interviewing one another about the project. Here are a few of their videos and pictures.
Mr. Jeff Morgan talking about the project
Video courtesy of Kennedy Schindler
Video courtesy of Alexandria Schaufler
The completed farm!
Photo courtesy of Hailey Lossia
Thank you to all of the teachers who let us stop in today and visit the farm! We can't wait to see the progress.