ELMO Projectors

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.

Classroom Books Initiative

Fifth-grade teacher Billy Thompson came to the Foundation with a proposal in the fall of 2005. He noted that there are a number of book titles listed in the MCPS curriculum guides, particularly reading, that are needed to teach various lessons. Unfortunately, the school had only one copy that had to be shared amongst many staff members — or in some cases, no copy at all. He suggested that the Foundation fund the purchase of books connected to the MCPS curriculum (reading, social studies, science, and math.)

The Foundation voted to give each grade level $500 toward additional books. The phys ed, art, music, reading initiative, and ESOL teachers also received funds toward supplementing their MCPS instructional programs.

Teacher Feedback on Classroom Libraries Initiative

“The children have so enjoyed the biographies that you made possible in our classrooms…I find that once children are exposed to biographies, they want to learn more about other people who have made a difference in our world. It instills and reinforces that they, too, can soar to any heights inflated by their dreams…Just like Langston Hughes or Eleanor Roosevelt. They draw strength and courage by reading about the lives of others….Again, thank you for always being there to make sure that our children are enriched as they journey through Somerset.

– Diane Anderson, Grade 2 Team Leader

“This past year the Foundation gave (the third grade team) a generous grant that we used to purchase sets of books to use for literature circles in our class…The books … allowed us, as teachers, to offer a wider variety of titles to our students…The grant also allowed us to select books for a wide range of reading levels…We are so grateful for your support of our academic program. Your support will definitely enable us as teachers to provide a stimulating and engaging curriculum for our students.

– Maggie Sisti, Grade 3 Team Leader

“I would like to express the appreciation of our fourth grade team for your generous contribution to our book collection. Through your funding, we were able to purchase multiple copies of three different novels. Because our curriculum calls for us to be teaching the same genres and concepts at the same time, we have been scrambling in the last couple of years to have enough books….Thank you again for your continuing support!”

– Jean Snyder, Grade 4 Team Leader

“I am writing on behalf of the fifth grade team to thank the Somerset Foundation for financially supporting our academic program. The funds you provided enabled us to purchase books to use for literature circles in our class. It was so nice to offer the children a wider selection of reading material…We were able to add books to our historical fiction collection and science fiction collection…We appreciate the fact that you continue to do whatever you can to help us provide and enriched program for our students.

– William Thompson, Grade 5 Team Leader


In December 2004, the Foundation agreed to fund a proposal to expand the fourth-grade poetry program to include Somerset second-graders and second-graders from Burnt Mills Elementary School. Adele Stein, Somerset’s Poet-in-Residence, met with second-graders from both schools, for a total of 14 classes. In April, second-graders from both schools presented their poetry at the fourth grade’s annual Poetry Cafe, followed by a mixed group of fourth-graders and second-graders, who wrote and presented poetry collaboratively. This project built community between the two schools, supported writing indicators, and involved almost 150 students.