By Maddy Vitale
The Ocean City Education Foundation (OCEF) awarded $14,000 in mini-grants to smiling teachers in the district during a reception and ceremony Friday morning at the primary school.
Comfy furniture for first-graders, a television camera for technology classes, a button maker for a merchandising class, class trips for children in special education classes geared toward building social skills, French food supplies, and headphones for Spanish classes were just some of the awards.
“We just love giving these grants out,” said Tricia Ciliberto, president of the independent foundation. “We want to keep giving for years to come.”
Ciliberto also thanked the district and especially Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor for her never-ending support of the foundation’s work.
The OCEF hosts two fundraisers and accepts donations from the community. The money goes to teachers in the form of mini-grants. The district then purchases the items to be used in the classroom.
Primary School technology teacher Randy Kohr happily accepted his award for a professional-grade television camera.
Kohr said it began when he visited the Ocean City High School’s media center and saw the professional equipment. He hoped his students could have the same.
Before accepting the certificate for the camera, Kohr thanked the foundation.
“Thank you for all of your support. We are very lucky to have you.”
Carrie Merritt, a first-grade teacher in the Primary School, asked for “comfy” furniture to help her students enjoy reading more, rather than sitting on hard seats.
She got what she asked for and enthusiastically accepted.
“You are helping me with the environment for the first graders,” Merritt said. “I’m pumped. The comfy furniture will help encourage reading.”
Last year, Merritt requested and received desk cycles to help some of her students with their attention.
At the end of the presentations, Superintendent Taylor thanked the foundation.
“Every day you help us. I am just so appreciative,” she said. “You are all just amazing. Thank you. Now it is time that you get the applause.”
OCEF is made up of 30 people including teachers, administrators, parents, business owners, and residents in the school district.
The foundation was formed about 11 years ago to enhance and expand enrichment opportunities for all students in the Ocean City School District and the community, Ciliberto said.
While funds are raised for other needs in the community, the main goal of the organization is to provide grants to teachers.
OCEF board member Jennifer Shirk said that the mini-grants create “a sort of private-school effect” because the teachers determine some of the things the students need.
“The teachers know what the students need, and we are able to buy it for them,” Shirk noted.
In January, a letter went out to all teachers in the district, inviting them to submit grant requests.
On Friday night the foundation and the Ocean City Theatre Company (OCTC) hosted a Mystery Dinner Theater at Josie Kelly’s Public House, 908 Shore Road in Somers Point. The proceeds will go to wellness initiatives in the school district, foundation members explained.
Last month the Education Foundation was recognized by the New Jersey Education Foundation at a ceremony for Outstanding Small Education Foundation.
For more information about the Ocean City Education Foundation visit www.ocnjef.com or view information on the OCEF Facebook page.