The Bedford Education Foundation (BEF) has reviewed the many applications received and has awarded its 2014 Program and Summer Fellowship grants.

Over the last several years, BEF has awarded over $98,000 to schools and educators to advance its goal of improving education in Bedford. Grants have been given to all Bedford schools and all grade levels. Some notable awards include the multi-disciplinary Legos project, the BHS BASE Camp, the aquarium in the entrance to Memorial School (integrated into multiple curricula), the “musical playground” at Peter Woodbury, the BHS Personal Finance curriculum, the Galapagos project, multiple writing seminars, the BHS Challenge Day program, multiple anti-bullying workshops, several programs focused on the improved use of technology in education, and many more.

Paul Brock, BEF chairman, said, “BEF raises money from Bedford parents who care about improving the quality of education in Bedford, and we distribute these funds in a very targeted and thoughtful way to schools and teachers. We look for maximum leverage – where can the largest number of students gain the most, and we also look for innovative and cutting-edge programs.”

This year, BEF received and reviewed 15 applications from 25 teachers at five of Bedford’s schools. Through the planning efforts of BEF board member Brit Munsterteiger, all of the applications this year were submitted electronically, which made the process easier for the submitters as well as for the BEF reviewers. The applications were reviewed by the BEF board as well as by three community volunteers. Two of this year’s awards went to support the foreign language department at Bedford High School. One was to support Laura Chennette’s efforts in the Modern Language Study Abroad program. Related to this award is a second Foreign Language award intended to support the establishment of a Spanish sister school for BHS, which will allow Spanish students to attend BHS and for BHS students to study abroad in Spain.

Heather Brunelle received an award to attend a ‘Flipped Learning’ conference. Flipped Learning, appropriate for some disciplines and some classes, embraces the concept of ‘flipping’ what work is done at home (homework) and what is done in school. It makes the teacher more available at the times when the students need the help the most.

Tristen Bowen received a grant to attend the Confratute University of Connecticut NEAG Center for Gifted and Talented. Rachel Ramsey and Hilary Woods received grants to attend the IMSW Orton-Gillingham Advanced Continuum Training. This training is focused on decoding, encoding, vocabulary, grammar, writing, spelling rules, along with Greek and Latin roots.

Dawn Pons, Julia Fine, Erin Milem and Kate Schoendinger received a grant to support a new program at the Ross A. Lurgio School called “A Long Walk to Water.” This multi-disciplinary program addresses the physical, social, and geographic issues surrounding water availability in the Sudan.

Eric O’Brien, BEF treasurer, said, “This year’s decisions were extra hard. We had a number of very high quality applications and we wish we could have supported more. Unfortunately, we are bound by not only our funding level but by our mission – to support innovation, pilot programs, and ‘outside-the-box’ programs. Our job will be much easier, and we will support more innovation, when we increase our financial support from the community and local businesses.”

Brock commented on the fund raising efforts of BEF. “We have a short-term goal to raise funds to support current programs, and we have a strategic goal of funding an endowment that will ensure we can perform our mission in perpetuity.”