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The Hammonton Education Foundation awarded $31,464 worth of grants that will fund projects in the public school district during the 2015-2016 academic year.

The foundation’s board of trustees unanimously voted to fund the projects, for which teachers and administrators had to apply.

The foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money to supplement and enhance the quality of education for students in the public school district, has awarded more than $350,000 worth of grants to local schools since its inception in 2003.

The current round of grants includes $22,089 for the purchase of 74 Chromebook laptops.

Fourteen of them, equipped with touch screens, will be use by special education students at the Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center.

The Chromebooks will create a fun, interactive learning environment while also conveying practical benefits.

“Digital copies of work can help special needs students by making it easy to edit or change their work,” teachers Joni DiEmma and Stefanie Saia wrote in their application. “This would significantly reduce many of the negative behaviors that special needs students experience due to a low frustration tolerance. Many special needs students [also] have difficulty with motor skills, which can extend into their ability to write a legible paper. Typewritten assignments are much easier to read than those written by hand.”

Sixty Chromebooks will be shared by fourth-grade students at Warren E. Sooy Jr. Elementary School. The fourth-graders will use the Chromebooks to compose and edit essays, blog with teachers and classmates, conduct research and improve their keyboarding skills.

“Teachers [also will] be able to give ongoing and simultaneous feedback to students, as you can oversee the entire writing process of the class at one time,” Renee Clark, an English language arts teacher at Sooy School, wrote in an application. “Using Chromebooks will have a profound positive impact on student achievement in language arts literacy and help build a strong foundation for future academic success.”

The grants for all Chromebooks will cover the costs of storage carts and all necessary licenses.

The foundation awarded a $3,418 grant to introduce kindergarten students at the Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center to the theater.

The kindergarten students will take a bus trip to see ’Twas the Night Before Christmas at The Broadway Theatre of Pitman. The grant also will pay for the purchase of puppets the students will use to create and stage their own performances, as well as to act out stories in class.

“As teachers, we can expose students by reading to them, building their interest through dramatic play and having students act out different characters,” teachers Lisa Ruiz and Gina Giralo wrote in their application. “This project [will] allow some of our youngest students to experience theater, an opportunity that many of them may never otherwise be given.”

A $2,000 grant will fund the purchase of nonfiction texts for the Sooy School’s Loretta Rehmann Media Center.

“Nonfiction texts should be accessible to our youngest readers so that they begin to understand the function, structure and craft of these texts before they are asked to read books with increased complexity,” Jennifer Brittin, teacher of media at Sooy School, said in her application. “The proposed collection offers a variety of titles for kindergarten and first-grade readers, while including plenty of texts that are appropriate for older students.”

The foundation also approved a $3,956 grant for the purchase of Reno Tubano drums for use by sixth-grade music students at Hammonton Middle School.

The drums will help students learn to perform various rhythmic pieces, and improve their abilities to read and write music.

“Students currently struggle to understand the concept of steady beat and rhythmic compositions since they do not have the necessary instruments to apply these skills within the classroom,” teacher Matthew Engle wrote in his application. “The Tubano drums allow for a connection within our curriculum to these skills. ... The ability for students to not only see but also now perform a variety of music from different world cultures is an excellent way for them to be able to connect the importance of music and cross-curricular concepts.”

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