As part of its community outreach mission, The Somerset Foundation gave a $1000 grant to Westland Middle School during their campaign to raise money for whiteboards for the school in 2007.
The Foundation has underwritten the cost of a professional education library for the teachers, and in the fall of 2007 and 2008, sponsored an important teacher professional development opportunity — Dr. Janet Richardson’s highly regarded guided reading seminars. The teacher feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Please see below:
Teacher Feedback on Training
“This was by far the best guided reading training I have attended in my ten years of teaching. Thank you.”
“Overall, the training was wonderful. . .”
“Since this is my first year teaching, I have gained a lot from this workshop. I became more aware of wh to focus on in my guided reading groups as well as how to address students’ needs.”
“These workshops were, on the whole, the most helpful training that I’ve been a part of in Montgomery County.”
“This training was excellent — probably the most helpful and useful in specific ways that I have been a part of in my 13 years of teaching.”
What’s an ELMO? We’re not talking about your preschooler’s favorite puppet. ELMOs are high-resolution overhead projectors that can capture three-dimensional objects and images on paper, so the whole class can follow along in their seats as they view the object or document projected onto a large screen. Thanks to community donations to the Foundation, by the end of 2007 there was an ELMO in every classroom at Somerset.
Teachers’ Comments on the ELMO Projector
“The kids really do love using the ELMO. They feel so proud to see their work displayed large enough for all to see. We’ve used it for science experiments, giving feedback on their writing and demonstrating new math manipulatives. I knew I would use it, but I am surprised just how often I turn it on (probably 4-5 times a day!) It’s a great tool. . .”
“The ELMO is being used almost daily [in our grade.] We can demonstrate activities with much greater ease. When we planted our plants I used it to demonstrate each step. As we observed the plants I used it to magnify and project the parts of the plant so the entire class could seed see exactly what a bud, sepal, or anther was. In math, manipulatives can be placed under it to lead the students through a hands-on lesson. . .”
“Using the ELMO to demonstrate how to set up final copies, head a paper, use editing marks is so much easier.”
“I use it many times each day for a wide range of purposes. I use it extensively for instruction in Math class, as a demonstration and examination tool in Science, and for going over any assignment or document with students, and as a tool to model for students what I’d like them to record or write. The photos I’ve attached here show one of its latest uses – I’ve been able to pair it with a light microscope, and therefore enable the entire class to view simultaneously the single-celled microorganisms that exist in Somerset’s stream, as part of our unit on Cells and Heredity.”
The Town of Somerset gave a very generous donation in 2005 when the school was being re-built to help with landscaping maintenance. The Foundation was able to underwrite a multi-year landscaping contract that allowed for regular watering, weeding, mulching and pruning (school staff takes care of basic maintenance such as mowing and snow removal). On a few occasions, we have obtained supplemental services from a smaller landscaper. Over the years the Foundation has also purchased some landscaping features, such as small trees.
Since the fall of 2010 the Foundation and the PTA share the cost of the annual contract with the landscaping company. Landscaping services are provided by Wray Bros. Landscaping, a local company owned by Somerset E.S. alums who are also parents of current students. They donate some of the annual maintenance, resulting in a substantially discounted contract.