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Hammonton Education Foundation awards nearly $23,000 in grants for 2022-2023 school year


The Hammonton Education Foundation awarded $22,582 worth of grants that will fund seven projects in the public school district during the 2022-2023 school year.

The nonprofit foundation’s board of trustees unanimously approved the grants, for which teachers had to apply.

The foundation — a recognized 501(c)(3) organization that raises money to fund innovative projects in the local public schools — has awarded more than $558,850 worth of grants since 2005.

“The Hammonton Education Foundation’s ability to enhance the quality of education for students in the public school district is only possible because of the tremendous support we receive from the community,” said Monica Kemp, co-chair of the foundation’s program allocations committee. “On behalf of our trustees, I want to express our gratitude to everyone who has contributed to our organization’s success by sponsoring, attending or supporting our fundraisers.”

This year’s grant awards will fund projects at each of the district’s four schools. Here is a breakdown of the funding:


Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center

A $3,000 grant will fund a sensory room designed to provide students a safe place to explore while giving them the freedom to learn and play.

“Advantages to having a sensory room include opportunities for movement, improving visual perceptual and visual motor skills, enhancing learning through play, promoting focus, and encouraging communication and social skills,” occupational therapist Chrissanne Hansbury and special education teacher Stefanie Dooley wrote in their application. “The sensory room will also offer a safe, comfortable place at school for students in crisis, when a calm environment is needed.”

Warren E. Sooy Jr. Elementary School

A $2,990 grant will fund the purchase of Ozobot coding robots. Students in second through fourth grades will receive weekly robotics and coding lessons that will enhance their technology skills. 

“Students will develop and apply computation and design thinking to address real-world problems. [They also] will learn, understand and apply fundamental coding concepts,” Cindy Rongone, teacher of technology, wrote in her application.



Hammonton Middle School

A $3,000 grant will fund the creation of a mindfulness corner in the library. This secluded space will allow students to relieve stress. They will be able to use tablets to listen to calming music or sounds, view serene images, or use apps that teach mindful breathing and meditation. Other resources will include books, journals and sensory tools, including stress balls and handheld games.

“The 21st century student has many more stressors and triggers than ever before,” media specialist Karelle Pierre-Jacques and social studies teacher/library intern Kelly DiGirolamo wrote in their application. “The mindfulness corner can be a safe place for students to reflect upon their feelings and thoughts.”



Hammonton High School

The foundation awarded four grants to fund projects at the high school.

A $5,000 grant will help purchase items for the Blue Devils Pantry. The pantry — created with a Hammonton Education Foundation grant in 2019 — provides food, clothing, hygiene products, toiletries and other essential items to students with unmet needs. The pantry also includes a washer and dryer, which are available to help students who are unable to clean their clothing at home.

“A large portion of our students have experienced trauma in their lives and live in stressful situations every day. They are coming into our school with unmet needs that are impacting their ability to learn and be academically successful,” Cari Coia, an English teacher who manages the pantry, wrote in her application. “We realize we cannot ‘fix’ everything, but we can do our very best while the students are with us at school. … Students who are fed, clean and are wearing decent, clean clothing will be much more likely to learn and to enjoy school.”

A $3,000 grant will fund a new initiative intended to reward students for positive behaviors. Students recognized for exhibiting targeted behaviors each month will receive tickets that will enter them into a raffle for various prizes that may include gift cards, apparel or AirPods.

“Despite the many areas where Hammonton High School excels, there are specific areas in need of improvement, especially among more vulnerable subgroup populations,” teacher Kelsey Foster wrote in her application. “A school-wide behavior project can reap many benefits that will translate not only to school culture but also to academic performance in the classroom. … Academic research clearly shows, time and again, that punitive measures aren’t as effective as positive rewards. This proposal would enable the faculty and staff as a whole to offer desirable incentives for a school-wide initiative.”

A $3,285 grant will purchase biotechnology equipment for the advanced placement biology classroom.

“One of the major topics presented in AP biology is biotechnology. Throughout this unit, students learn about gel electrophoresis, DNA fingerprinting, polymerase chain reaction testing, restriction enzymes and bacterial transformation,” biology and chemistry teacher Kristen Silvesti wrote in her application. “After learning about these concepts, students complete labs that provide them with hands-on experiences. Unfortunately, the AP biology lab equipment has not been updated in several years. … [The equipment we will purchase] puts modern biotechnology in the hands of high school students.”

A $2,307 grant will allow the high school book club to purchase 150 books — 30 copies each of five different titles. The funding will provide books to economically disadvantaged students, foster the love of reading as a hobby and outlet for relaxation or stress reduction, and extend the classroom into the students’ homes by promoting literacy for life, Tracy Angelozzi, an English teacher and the book club’s adviser, wrote in her application.

“The club takes on a thematic approach with both club reads and personal choices that result in candid and progressive discussions in a respectful way,” Angelozzi wrote. “One of the biggest barriers to the club choices and selections is getting enough books for the entire club. There are simply not enough copies in our library and the interlibrary loan system to accommodate the club. When a student is handed a book to keep and embrace, the results and smiles are endless.”

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