Grants to fund social, emotional learning needs; middle school physical education programs
CHELMSFORD, MA (Jan. 28, 2021) – Chelmsford Public Schools recently received $16,000 in two separate grants, one to support social and emotional learning and another to benefit the Parker and McCarthy middle school physical education programs, announced Katie Simes, CPS Heath Education, Physical Education and Family and Consumer Sciences Coordinator.
CPS received a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), titled Integrating Social and Emotional Learning into Academic Learning, to identify students social and emotional learning skill levels and competencies and determine areas of growth.
CPS also received a $5,989 grant from the Falmouth Road Race Philanthropy Program which will fund the purchase of 30 new sets of snowshoes for both the Parker and McCarthy middle school physical education curriculum.
As mental health is a pivotal concern in the current climate, both grants will directly and indirectly impact student mental health.
The DESE grant will enable CPS educators to survey students’ knowledge base according to the five competencies of the CASEL model: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.
“Part of the grant is to conduct a social and emotional learning assessment through a survey developed by DESE for all fourth, fifth, eighth and 10th graders to identify students’ knowledge base as far as the CASEL competencies,” said Ms. Simes. “This data will give us an opportunity to identify areas of need and support students to develop these specific skills and competencies within a tiered system of support.”
With a focus on outdoor activity, particularly in the winter months, Ms. Simes applied for the Falmouth Road Race grant with the hope of adding snowshoeing to the physical education curriculum in both the Parker and McCarthy middle schools. Earlier in the year, she was able to purchase enough snowshoes for the high school PE classes, but not for both middle schools.
“Our PE teachers love outdoor activity,” said Ms. Simes. “I’ve been looking into snowshoeing for the last five years, and I’ve wanted to provide our students with some kind of outdoor lifetime fitness winter activity that is accessible to all students. We have so much land among our schools and the winters can seem very long in New England so it will be a nice addition to our curriculum to be able to take students outside, get some fresh air, and enjoy some snowshoeing while working on their own personal fitness.
“A colleague had mentioned to me that (the Falmouth Road Race Board of Directors) were all about funding opportunities for physical fitness,” she added. “I figured it was worth a shot, but because we’re so far from Falmouth, I wasn’t sure about our chances. I was thrilled when I received the letter.”
Chelmsford High School students used the snowshoes for the first time in December while the middle schools are expected to receive their snowshoes within two weeks.
“We’re hopeful for more snow in the future to be able to introduce snowshoeing to our second semester students which started on Wednesday,” Ms. Simes added.