A local bank has written its own check to make a difference in the lives of Gloucester schoolchildren. 

Cape Ann Savings Bank has awarded $60,000 to the Gloucester Education Foundation (GEF) to support its endowment fund as well as programs in the Gloucester public schools. 

"Cape Ann Savings Bank has been a longtime friend and supporter of GEF in many ways," said Aria McElhenny,  executive director of the foundation. "By investing in Gloucester Education Foundation's infrastructure, Cape Ann Savings is helping to pave the way for innovative and creative programs in Gloucester's schools for years to come."

During this tumultuous time because of the COVID-19, the local bank that is owned by its depositors is focused on giving back to the community. 

"GEF has been very organized and very well run and they do a good job supplementing the programs at the public schools in Gloucester," said Bob Gillis, Cape Ann Savings Bank's president. 

"Charitable giving is a core of what we do as a community bank," Gillis said. 

As a non-profit that works to expand student opportunities and empower educators, GEF's endowment goes toward keeping it around Cape Ann for a long time. 

"Money that comes in from our endowment helps to pay operating costs like rent and keeping the lights on," McElhenny explained. "What that does is it frees us up so that, as we fundraise, all the money is able to go directly to programs."

Such programs includes the Gloucester Public School Response Fund, which is focused on supporting the school district's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The foundation's support of the school district takes form of getting technology and additional resources into the classroom as each student is in need of his or her own classroom supplies as COVID-19 protocols prevent sharing. 

"It is an unusual year and things are changing by the week," McElhenny said.

Cape Ann Savings Bank also supports the Rockport and Manchester Essex education foundations. 

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

HOW THE MONEY WILL HELP SCHOOLS

With the $60,000 from Cape Ann Savings Bank, Gloucester Education Foundation will fund the following: 

Bringing science lab work into the home. Gloucester High School teacher Carol Cafasso will implement two online experiential learning solutions for biology, chemistry and physics classes. These will enable students to do lab-based science at home using real data in their experiments. 

Technology for Gloucester High Music Department. Led by Gloucester High teacher Dan Fleury, this project will enable student music ensembles to pursue their studies during remote and hybrid learning by providing the equipment necessary to create high quality recordings. This will make Gloucester High music more widely available to the community through YoutTube and social media, in hopes of inspiring younger students to pursue music studies.  

Ukeleles for Beeman Elementary students. Teacher Emily Prestogiovanni will implement a hands-on curriculum using ukuleles.  The band program and recorder studies have both been halted in the elementary schools by the pandemic, but ukuleles are a safe way to offer instrument instruction and help build a foundation for instrument studies when students move on to middle school.  

West Parish virtual fifth-grade play. As part of GEF’s commitment to funding theater programs in every elementary school, this year the West Parish fifth-graders will write and create a video recording of their original play, then edit it into a final version to be released online. 

Web-based phonics tools. At Veterans Memorial and Plum Cove elementary school, the kindergarten through third-grade teachers will use Whizzimo, a web-based application that is compatible with web meeting programs like Zoom and provides digital letter tiles, word cards, phrases, sentences, and interactive, multi-sensory practice opportunities. Students and teachers can use Whizzimo remotely or in class. 

Building community through the mail. Teachers at the elementary remote academy will send special projects, books and one-on-one communication with their students to develop relationships with them that go beyond the virtual classroom. 

Virtual advanced placement summer prep classes. This project enabled Gloucester High students to get a head start on their classwork before the school year started and helped prepare them for the AP exam in the spring, through the offering of 10 online advanced placement preparatory classes throughout the summer. 

O’Maley Innovation Middle School Science Center. Led by Amy Donnelly and David Brown, this project will builds the lab-based, hands-on learning that already exists in the O’Maley STEM labs by consolidating the labs into one wing of the school, and bringing on a part-time resident scientist to coordinate work in the labs and help students use professional-grade equipment. The new science center will also streamline school traffic flow to better comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines.

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