Education foundation awards first grants

The Naugatuck Education Foundation awarded five, $500 grants Monday night at the Naugatuck Historical Society. Pictured, from left, grant recipients Cross Street School Principal Chris Montini, Naugatuck High School media specialist Deb Coretto, Salem School reading consultant Gina Kotsaftis, Western School third grade teacher Stephanie Collela, Naugatuck High School science teacher Jim Isaacson, and Kate Murphy, food services director for the Board of Education. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI


NAUGATUCK — An evening three years in the making finally arrived for the fledgling Naugatuck Education Foundation.

On Monday night, the foundation awarded its first education grants to faculty from the borough’s public schools during a reception at the Naugatuck Historical Society.

“We’re looking for creativity, innovation, excellence and that’s why were here today to reward and award those types of projects,” said Bill Brown, vice chair of the foundation.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises money to fund specific projects in the public schools that go above and beyond what is currently funded by the Board of Education. Earlier this year, the foundation went through its first application process.

Joan Doback, chair of the foundation, said the foundation received 14 applications in all. She was happy with the first go-around. She said teachers are now talking about the grants and are already looking forward to the next cycle, which is planned for the fall.

Along with seeking projects that are creative and innovative, Doback added the foundation was looking for projects that are sustainable and touch the lives of many students.

On Monday five projects were awarded $500 grants.

“These five really stood out,” Doback said.

Western School third grade teacher Stephanie Collela was awarded a grant for the project, “Can You Hear Us Now? Sensational Sound for Young Actors.” The money will be used to buy sound equipment for the theater club at the school and get more students involved, Collela explained. An afterschool program will be started for second graders to learn how to use the equipment, she said.

Naugatuck High School science teacher Jim Isaacson was awarded a grant for “Get Smart, Get Fit & Go Green with EarthBox,” a project to buy self-contained grow boxes to complement the horticulture program at the high school.

Salem School reading consultant Gina Kotsaftis was awarded a grant for “Reading Electrified,” a project to buy two Kindle Fires for a reading program for third- and fourth-graders.

“I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity to share with the children at Salem because I know they’re as excited as I am about this opportunity,” Kotsaftis said.

Naugatuck High media specialist Deb Coretto received a grant for, “eReading For All,” to buy four eReaders and some eBooks for the high school library.

The Cross Street School science department was awarded a grant for “Harvesting Success.” The program is sponsored by the school system’s food services provider Sodexo. The funds will be used to start a vegetable garden at the school and hopefully incorporate the vegetables grown into lunch, Cross Street Principal Chris Montini said. The garden will be embedded into the school’s science curricula.

“We hope this is the start of something wonderful at Cross Street,” he said.

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