Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence Raises $34,000 for Cranford schools at 7th Annual Trivia Night

Proceeds to benefit grant requests for innovation and excellence in Cranford classrooms

February 2024

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence (CFEE) hosted its 7th Annual Trivia Night on Friday, February 23rd at the Kenilworth VFW. Over 300 people were in attendance, with 32 teams vying for the championship. The competition was fierce, with lively music by DJ Randy Geis and high spirits. The emcee for the evening, Karen Bennett, presented eight rounds of tough questions created by a board committee led by Trivia Master, Brian Andrews.

CFEE proudly featured over 40 businesses and families who supported the event with sponsorships ranging from $150 to $5000. MWT Builders served as “Principal Sponsor” and Lincoln Investments, The Cranford Jaycees, and Beyond Dance participated as “Facilities Directors” sponsors. Keating Physical Therapy, New Jersey Family Medical, ​​Schuster Family Orthodontics, Mr. P’s Varsity Jackets & Apparel, Pro Care Rehabilitation L.L.C., Julie and Jim Murphy — CHS Class of ‘78 supported the event as Academic Deans sponsors. More than $34,000 was raised from team entry fees, 500+ raffle tickets sold in the 50/50, and philanthropic donations. The event’s proceeds will fund grants made by Cranford district educators.

Superintendent of Cranford Schools and Trivia Night participant, Dr. Scott Rubin welcomed the crowd and expressed his thanks for the community’s strong support of fundraisers like Trivia Night that positively impact Cranford students & schools.

The trivia scores were close making it anyone’s trophy for the taking with a tie breaker showdown to determine the 2nd and 3rd place titles! Congratulations to 1st Place, In Liz We Truss, Howard Lubinger, Mike Yablonski, Bartek Konopka, Chrissi Konopka, Rebecca Trump, Paul Gallo, Patricia MacClean and Matt Trump, 2nd Place Party On Excellent, Margaret Carroll, Tim Carroll, Casey McGinley, Patrick McGinley, Amanda Pittard, Caitlin DuBois, Tom Maffiore, Jeff Pittard, Lisa Navarro, Dave Navarro and 3rd Place Team Name Pending, John Cwikla, Jenn Cwikla, Geoff Cleveland, Joy Cleveland, Faith Dzuroucik, Pete McDevitt, Mike Klimko, Jodi Klimko, Mark Kielczynski, and Marcy Kielczynski. This year’s 1st place team will be featured on a Cranford billboard this spring, plus scored their own limited edition ice cream flavor at Cranford Vanilla Bean Creamery! All winners walked away with bragging rights and a lawn sign to display proudly.

There was no contest when it came to the Spirit Award winners, who showed up to take home the glory. Class Clowns — The Red Hot Trivia Peppers: Liz Jackson, Matt Jackson, Michael Bange, Allison Bange, Denise Alvarez, Beth Lanzisera, Dom Lanzisera, Jim Behnke, Kristin Ferrara, Kathryn Wiedemann, Most Team Spirited – Hot for Teacher: Carine Helwig, Chris Helwig, Lauren Battaglino, John Battaglino, Carmen Rodriguez, Shawn McDonald, Alex McDonald, Mark Rodriguez, Kelli Farrell, and Shaun Farrell and Best Dressed – Earth, Win and Fire: Jaclyn Horbal, Sean Wilhelm, Marisa Wilhelm, Nim Shah, Matt DeLorenzo, Sheryl DeLorenzo, Jen Shah, Kevin Kelly, Nicole Kelly.

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence, relaunched in 2014, is a nonprofit, Cranford-based foundation that supports excellence and innovation in the Cranford public schools by generating resources through community involvement. The grants are awarded to teachers and staff who apply for them, and benefit students across the school district. Since 2016, the CFEE has awarded over $350,000 in grants in categories such as: Differentiated or personalized education, technology integration and 21st-century skills, innovation zones/makerspaces, and classroom design.

Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence awards more than $33,000 in grants for the 2023-24 school year

September 2023

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence (CFEE) is a non-profit, community-based philanthropic foundation, whose mission is to foster academic excellence, promote innovation, and enhance the vitality of the Cranford Public Schools by generating additional resources through community involvement. Grants are awarded to educators who will use the funding to advance this mission.

The CFEE is proud to announce they have awarded more than $33,000 in grants to the Cranford Public Schools for the 2023-24 academic year, which the Cranford Board of Education formally accepted this past August.

Fourteen projects received funding this year across the categories of Makerspaces/Innovation Zones, Innovations in Classroom Design, Differentiation / Personalization, Technology Integration and Innovations to Support School District Goals.

Yvette Andriola and Anne Marie Miller of Hillside Avenue School, who were awarded a grant for a reading intervention program, say “The reading initiative grant will not only promote differentiation within our learning environment but also create valuable intervention and enrichment opportunities for our students in the areas of reading/listening comprehension, memory, vocabulary, abstract thinking, and writing skills. We are confident that we can make a profound and lasting difference in the lives of our students, nurturing their abilities and fostering a love for learning that will accompany them on their educational journey.”

Grant funding for the 2023-2024 year was generated from the 6th Annual CFEE Trivia Night fundraiser, held last February at the Kenilworth VFW and philanthropic donations throughout the year. Thanks to everyone in the community who attended, with 39 teams vying for the championship and special shout out to DJ Randy Geis, emcee Danny Murphy, photographer Christopher Gosier, guest presenter Bernie Wagenblast and Trivia Master, Brian Andrews.

CFEE would also like to thank Cranford’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Scott Rubin, for stopping by and top contributors MWT Builders, Cranford Jaycees, Brighton Air Corporation, and Lincoln Investment for their generous sponsorship of the event. Other local businesses, Cranford families and community organizations also supported the event with sponsorships ranging from $150 to $5000.

Dr. Scott Rubin said of the CFEE “Thank you for all you do in support of the Cranford Public School District. I am truly heartened by your generosity, and that of the community, and excited about the positive impact the CFEE efforts will have on the District.”

Grant Spotlights

Manufacturing in Engineering: Using a Laser Cutter for Production (multi-school)

Goals of this project are to encourage student investigation of career possibilities in the areas of STEAM including computer aided design, manufacturing, and fabrication technologies. Providing students with opportunities to develop their technology skills through the use of programs and applications on computers and tablets.

The Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V®) program (Hillside Avenue School) which develops concept imagery as a basis for comprehension and higher-order thinking. This initiative promotes differentiation within the learning environment but also creates valuable intervention and enrichment opportunities for our students in the areas of reading/listening comprehension, memory, vocabulary, abstract thinking, and writing skills.

Innovated Interventions (district-wide) This multi-sensory approach to reading is geared toward helping students overcome literacy struggles. By using multi-sensory tools to teach phonics sequentially, students are able to learn cognitively and become more confident in their reading, writing, and language skills.

Sphero indi- Screenless Coding Driven by Color (multi-school)- With the addition of Sphero indi to the Library Media Program, robots will be primarily used during the Coding/Makerspace units with the PreK-2 population. The purpose of these robots is to introduce students to computer science and participate in screenless coding. Students will discover how to code Sphero indi through color. Sphero indi robots will spark imagination and empower students to design and build their own mazes and apply problem solving and computation thinking skills.

Wellness Room (Cranford High School) The creation of a Wellness Room at Cranford High School is designed to promote and support the mental health of students and faculty individuals, as well as the school as a whole. The expectation is that students and faculty will utilize de-escalation and grounding techniques in an aesthetically pleasing and naturally calming environment. This initiative aligns with the current district strategic plans to promote continuous improvement, awareness and a culture of student safety and wellness.

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence, relaunched in 2014, is a nonprofit, Cranford-based foundation that supports excellence and innovation in the Cranford public schools by generating resources through community involvement.

For more information on volunteer opportunities and how you can donate, visit and follow the Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence Facebook page for news and updates.


The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence – Supporting Innovative Educational Initiatives in the Cranford Schools

November 25, 2022

For nearly 20 years, a group of Cranford residents and educators have served as a resource for teachers throughout the district to provide funding for initiatives that haven’t been funded through traditional budgeting.

The CFEE raises money through a variety of methods, including an annual Trivia Night, which will return in February after a two-year absence. Tara O’Connor serves as a co-president of the organization and she joined me in one of the projects funded by the CFEE.

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CFEE Awards Grants to Support Educational Innovation in the Cranford Schools

August 18, 2022

The CFEE collaborated with district personnel to categorize grant applications and to ensure alignment with Cranford’s curricular and district goals. The organization was thrilled to support six projects across the district for a total amount over $25,000 during the 2020-2021 academic year. Below is a description of each funded grant based on the “category of innovation” along with some interesting details and positive outcomes.

Innovations for Technology Innovation/21st Century Skills

  • Middle School eSports
    Orange Avenue School and Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: Educator: Dr. Brian Heineman.
    This established extra curricular gaming activities tied into curricular standards in technology and correlated with the developing team at CHS. The resources purchased will also be used for current and yet to be developed cycle courses and electives at each middle school. Nearly 60 participants joined the activities weekly, and this group collaborated closely with the high school group.
  • Digital Art Display
    Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: Megan Nord
    Students’ art is displayed on a monitor to showcase work from the Digital Art cycle course. For the first time ever, digital artwork is highlighted for all students, faculty, staff, families and others who visit the school in a slideshow loop.
  • Drones: Taking Robotics to the Next Level
    Orange Avenue School and Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: Kristen Girone
    This grant provided students at both Hillside Avenue School and Orange Avenue School experience with programming and flying drones. Students worked together in small groups to complete challenges including maneuvering their drones through obstacles and having them do flips in the air. This project helped to build upon the robotics programming skills that they learned in Grade 7 Applied Technology and helped to encourage their personal exploration and interest in this new technology.

Innovations to Support School District Goals

  • Grief Informed School Districts
    Orange Avenue School and Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: Gayle Colucci
    Through this program, which was part of the Imagine the Center for Grief and Loss, students learned about the different types of loss and how to manage their feelings and emotions through these losses. Sixth-graders, as well as 7th and 8th-grade mentors, received the training this year, were given strategies and coping resources as well as taught the importance of helping others.
  • Remember, Retell: The Daffodil Project
    Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: Ellen English
    The Daffodil Project is a living Holocaust remembrance by planting 1.5 million daffodils around the world in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust and in support for children suffering in humanitarian crises in the world today. The 7th grade at Hillside Avenue School planted 1,750 daffodil bulbs in the fall, two Holocaust survivors shared their stories with the community, and CHS students created a film about the project.

Innovations in Zones/Makerspaces

  • Library and Learning Commons Makerspace
    Cranford High School
    Applicant: Christine Szeluga
    This project provided access to new 21st century makerspace tools and materials to engage students’ creativity, love of learning, and natural interests. The makerspace items included state-of-the-art podcast studio equipment, cricut machine for creating one of a kind designs, and a button machine for club promotion and class assignments.


CFEE Awards Grants to Support Educational Innovation in the Cranford Schools

June 24, 2019

This year the CFEE once again collaborated with district personnel to categorize grant applications and to ensure alignment with Cranford’s curricular and district goals.

In the 2019 grants process, there were 19 grant applications, of which 14 were accepted. Below is a description of each based on the “buckets of innovation:”

Innovations for Differentiation/Personalization:

  • Whiteboard horseshoe tables
    Walnut Avenue School
    Applicant: Stephanie Backiel.
  • Sensory Pathways
    Walnut Avenue School
    Applicant: Colleen Donovan.
    Various “stations” will be created in hallways to facilitate movement, stretching, mindfulness, etc.
  • Creative Mindset Literary Project
    Orange Ave School
    Applicant - Thais Jackson.
    Professional development and funding for materials to differentiate instruction in 6th grade Replacement ELA classes as well as other students with learning differences.

Innovations for Technology Integration/21st Century Skills:

  • EV3 Robotics
    Orange Avenue School
    Applicant: Shannon Pena.
    7th grade Applied Technology Students will purchase two additional EV3 robots.
  • Interactive Tech Tools to Promote Student Collaboration
    Cranford High School.
    Applicant: Sue Ritter.
    Padlet, a powerful technology tool to enhance student collaboration in ELA classrooms.
  • Virtual Classroom
    Brookside Place School.
    Applicant: Rosie Scholtz.
    Students will use virtual reality goggles to enrich instruction in Science and Math, among other subjects as well.
  • Art iPads for Professional Development
    Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: Megan Nord.
    Updated instructional strategies (PD) and materials for 8th grade Digital Art class.

Innovations in Classroom Design:

Four grant applications are to be combined under this category and will be granted a total of $10,000. Last year 7 grantees with similar requests were given $7000. Grantees are:

  • Hillside Ave School
    Theresa Pollitto
    Flexible seating and workstations for 2nd grade students.
  • Bloomingdale Ave School
    Kelly LoGuidice-Alfano
    Flexible seating for 2nd grade students.
  • Brookside Place School
    Gretchen O’Shea, Madeleine Bither, Megan Gilbertson, Donna Schlenker
    Flexible seating for BPS first graders.
  • Brookside Place School
    Nansie Collins
    Flexible seating for 5th-grade students.

Innovations to support school district goals:

  • CHS Peer Mediation
    Cranford High School
    Applicant: Lisa Burfeindt.
    A program being introduced to HS students where a panel of students and overseeing faculty will facilitate mediation between peers.
  • Intervention Strategies to Reach Striving Students
    Applicants: Sue Ritter and Gregg Caverly.
    Various tools for use with interventions with students requiring additional, more targeted instruction in order to meet standards. Will impact Math and ELA across the district, all grade levels.
  • Books on Diversity, Discrimination and Tolerance
    Hillside Ave School
    Applicant: Anne Marie Miller.
    6th grade students will read age-appropriate books on topics relevant to our current climate, and will be paired up with 3rd graders to discuss the books and various topics.


Community-Funded CFEE Grants Will Support Innovation in the Cranford Schools

September 17, 2018

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence has awarded more than $32,000 in grants to support a variety of educational innovations in the Cranford schools during the 2018-2019 academic year.

The grants will benefit students across the school district. The Cranford school board has formally accepted the grants, which are awarded to the teachers who applied for them.

CFEE, relaunched in 2014, is a nonprofit, Cranford-based foundation that supports excellence and innovation in the Cranford public schools by generating resources through community involvement. This year, in consultation with the school district leadership, CFEE awarded grants in four categories in order to benefit larger groups of students across grade levels:

  • Differentiated or personalized education
  • Technology integration and 21st-century skills
  • Innovation zones/makerspaces
  • Classroom design

“We would like to thank every one of the Cranford educators who applied for a grant this year,” said CFEE co-president Pete Turnamian. “We would also like to thank the school district‘s leaders for their advice and input into this year‘s process of awarding grants.”

“And, of course, thank you to everyone who has given in support of CFEE’s mission and made it possible to bring these exciting new resources to our students,” he said.

This year’s grant awards were made possible by CFEE’s third annual Trivia Night fundraiser, held in February; by a back-to-school appeal sent to parents in September 2017; and by the generous donations of parents, community members, and businesses throughout the year.

“Every year, it becomes more and more apparent just how much this community cares about supporting its teachers and giving them every resource for challenging and inspiring their students,” CFEE co-president Corey Walsh said. “I speak for everyone at CFEE when I say how honored and grateful we are for all the support and enthusiasm that the Cranford community has shown for advancing our mission.”

The grants for the 2018-2019 academic year, divided by category, are as follows:

Differentiated or Personalized Education

  • Collaboration Stations in the Middle School
    Orange Avenue School
    Standing desks, custom tables, and flexible seating will provide options for students of varying needs to collaborate at centralized work sites throughout the classroom. Desks can be shared across classrooms. This grant also falls under the classroom design category. (Christine Ross and Angelique Eimer, applicants)

Technology Intergration and 21st-Century Skills

  • Find Your Fitness: A Heart-Guided Fitness Program for Body and Mind
    Orange Avenue School
    More than 400 students will have access to heart monitors and will be able to use data to see how their physical activity aligns with their goals. (Suzette de Araujo, applicant)

Innovation Zones/Makerspaces

  • Maker/STEAM/Innovation Spaces
    Grades K-5 across six buildings.
    Makerspaces provide opportunities for independent learning, invention, exploration, and the mental stimulation that comes from working with one’s hands. (Sue Ritter, applicant)
  • EV3 Robotics
    Orange Avenue School
    Seventh-grade applied technology students will gain two EV3 robots to add to the eight that were funded last year by CFEE. (Shannon Pena, applicant)
  • Lego EV3: Robotics in STEAM Education
    Hillside Avenue School
    Ten EV3 robots will be purchased for use by 200 to 225 students in grades seven and eight. (Kristen Girone, applicant)
  • CO2 Dragster Race Track
    Orange Avenue School
    Eighth-grade applied technology students will draw on their study of aerodynamics to design, build, and race balsa-wood dragsters, using a kit that will allow for precise data collection. (Shannon Pena, applicant)

Classroom Design

  • Increasing Mathematical Discourse and Perseverance through Classroom Design
    Cranford High School
    Round whiteboard tables will allow students to share information and strategies in small groups, and will also promote more mobility in the room. (Elizabeth Sheehan, applicant)
  • Flexible Library Spaces
    Cranford High School
    Enhancements to the high school’s library will make it a more inviting space and foster more collaboration and cooperative learning. CFEE is partially funding this project as part of a long-range initiative. (Robin Melleno, applicant)

Other grants to improve classroom design were awarded at the following schools:

  • Hillside Avenue School: Flexible seating and work stations for second-grade students (Angela Cerchio, applicant)
  • Cranford High School: Collaborative work stations for ninth-grade biology students (Julia Lewis, applicant); sit-to-stand desks, whiteboard tables, and small-group mini lesson tables for all students in German class and any other classes that share the same room (Denice Schmidt, applicant)
  • Bloomingdale Avenue School. Flexible seating for first-grade students in general education, resource rooms, and the media center (Karen Ferraioli, Mellisa Toddings, Ann Curtis, Greg D’Amato, applicants)
  • Walnut Avenue School: Collaborative round tables, wobble cushions, lap trays, and other furniture that fosters student engagement for approximately 90 first graders per year (Lauren Wilson, applicant); wobble chairs for 23 first graders, which allow for student movement during both structured and unstructured time, which have proven to increase focus without disruption (Erica Campbell, applicant)


CFEE Awards Grants to Support Innovation in the Cranford Public Schools

June 12, 2017

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence has awarded nearly $23,000 in grants to fund innovative classroom projects in the Cranford public schools for the 2017-2018 school year. The grants will bring new resources to students at all levels—from kindergarten through high school—and across subjects, from science and literacy to math and music.

The Board of Education formally accepted the grants on June 12, and they will be awarded directly to the teachers who applied for them earlier this year. This is the third annual round of awards since the 2014 relaunch of the CFEE, a Cranford-based nonprofit foundation that supports excellence and innovation in the Cranford public schools by generating additional resources through community involvement.

“Since 2014, we have been delighted to see how enthusiastically the Cranford community has embraced and supported CFEE’s renewed efforts. All of the thoughtful, creative ideas reflected in this year’s grant applications show, once again, how deeply Cranford’s teachers care about doing the utmost to challenge and inspire their students,” CFEE co-president Pete Turnamian said. “We thank everyone who made the effort to apply for a grant.”

All grant funding comes from Cranford residents, businesses, and organizations. This year’s grant awards were made possible by the CFEE’s second annual Trivia Night fundraiser in February, which raised more than $20,000, and by a Back to School appeal sent to parents in September.

The CFEE received 30 grant applications and made 12 grant awards, working with applicants and the school district to make sure funds would be spent in a strategic and effective manner that was aligned with the district’s mission. In addition, alternative solutions were found within the district and community that may accomplish the goals of several applicants who were not awarded funding.

“We thank the school district leadership for their partnership, and we thank everyone who contributed to CFEE over the past year,” CFEE co-president Corey Walsh said. “New, creative classroom methods are critical for preparing students for our rapidly changing world, and we are thrilled to see that the Cranford community so readily supports this vital work.”

The grants awarded funding are as follows:

  • The Creative Mindset Literary Project
    Orange Avenue School
    Applicant: Thais Jackson.
    Sixth-graders will develop and publish their literary works and present them at a book release event.
  • PebbleGo Database Subscription
    Bloomingdale Avenue, Brookside Place, Hillside Avenue, and Walnut Avenue schools
    Applicant: Arline McCloskey.
    This is the second CFEE grant providing access to this database, which uses videos, read-along audio, and other supports to help all the district’s K-2 students build literacy skills and learn about social studies and science.
  • Intergenerational Book Study
    Cranford High School
    Applicant: Jennifer Hilborn.
    Students in grades 9 through 12 will meet with school staff and community members after school to discuss five texts having to do with privilege as a way to build empathy for challenges facing other people.
  • Ellison Starter Set
    Cranford High School
    Applicant: Lisa Williams.
    The multiple disabilities class will use this letter- and shape-cutting tool—which they can manipulate with little assistance—for making posters and other crafts for use around the high school, learning a skill in the process.
  • Middle School Band Instruments
    Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: A.J. Falisi.
    Outdated band instruments, some of them more than 50 years old, will be replaced with new equipment to meet the needs of the growing music program and allow for more challenging lessons.
  • Robots
    Orange Avenue School
    Applicant: Shannon Pena.
    Older robot kits used by third- through seventh-graders will be replaced by newer, better models to support robotics education, which integrates math, programming, and engineering.
  • We Do Need STEAM!
    Livingston Avenue School
    Applicant: Kimberly Scutieri Crowder.
    LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 sets will help students develop problem-solving and other skills by making challenging STEAM topics (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math) more approachable.
  • 3D Printer
    Orange Avenue School
    Applicants: Marc Edery, Shannon Pena.
    A 3D printer will be used to build STEAM and computer science/design skills schoolwide.
  • Junior Birdwatchers
    Walnut Avenue School
    Applicant: Judy Grogan.
    Second-graders will use binoculars, field guides and other supplies to learn to distinguish various bird species from one another.
  • Sensory Diet
    Hillside Avenue School
    Applicant: Yvette Andriola.
    This personalized activity plan will help regular and special-education students in grades K-8 improve focus, attention, postural control, and self-regulation.
  • Ukuleles 2.0
    Livingston Avenue School
    Applicant: Colleen McDonald.
    Ukuleles for fourth- and fifth-graders, funded by a CFEE grant last year, will be supplemented with a storage cart and new teaching materials.
  • Flexible Seating/Personalized Learning
    Bloomingdale Avenue, Hillside Avenue, and Orange Avenue schools, and Cranford High School
    The school district will allocate a grant among six applicants, each of whom sought funding for chairs, tables, books, or other materials to improve classroom design and foster more personalized learning.

Cranford Rotary Club Supports CFEE

July 25, 2016

The Cranford Rotary Club hosted its annual golf outing at Echo Lake Country Club. The event was a resounding success and raised $7,500 for CFEE. Thank you Rotarians, and all those who took part in the event. This generous donation will support CFEE’s continued efforts to bring exciting and innovative new resources to the Cranford Public Schools.


CFEE Awards Grants to Support Educational Innovation in the Cranford Schools

Sept. 13, 2016

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence (CFEE) has awarded more than $16,000 in grants to the Cranford public schools for the 2016-2017 academic year. The grants will pay for various educational resources sought by teachers who want to engage and challenge their students in inventive ways.

The grants will benefit children at all levels—from kindergarten through high school—across a range of subjects, from the sciences to literacy to music and art. The grants, awarded directly to teachers, were formally accepted by the Cranford Board of Education over the summer.

“Once again, we were impressed with all the outstanding grant applications we received, and with all the great ideas for enhancing the education of Cranford students,” CFEE Co-President Susan Caruso Green said.

The CFEE is a nonprofit, Cranford-based foundation that supports excellence and innovation in the Cranford public schools by generating additional resources through community involvement.

Founded more than 15 years ago and relaunched two years ago after a hiatus, the CFEE has awarded more than $200,000 for educational initiatives that are beyond the scope of the school district’s budget. Funding comes entirely from Cranford residents, businesses and organizations.

More information about the CFEE, including the criteria for awarding grants and descriptions of grants in action, can be found at

“We are thrilled to be able to inspire appreciation for our teachers and support innovation in our classrooms, and we deeply appreciate the community’s support,” CFEE Co-President Pete Turnamian said. “Our goal has always been to ensure that the Cranford sprit of pride and generosity is alive in our classrooms for our children’s benefit.”

The CFEE received 18 grant applications in May and funded eight of them. They are:

  • PebbleGo Database Subscription
    Bloomingdale Avenue, Brookside Place, Hillside Avenue, and Walnut Avenue schools
    Applicant: Arline McCloskey.
    All of the district’s K-2 students will use this award-winning database, with its read-aloud function and videos, to build literacy skills while completing projects in social studies and the sciences.
  • Ukuleles in the General Music Classroom
    Livingston Avenue School
    Applicant: Colleen McDonald.
    Fourth- and fifth-graders will learn instrumental performance on the ukulele, a user-friendly instrument that’s well suited to developing a love of music making.
  • Aerodynamics in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math)
    Hillside Avenue and Orange Avenue schools
    Applicants: Kristin Girone, Steve VanDam.
    A Flow Visualization Wind Tunnel will be used for hands-on study of aerodynamics and design processes in grades 6 through 8.
  • DrumFit
    Orange Avenue School
    Applicants: Suzette de Araujo, Amanda Innis, Connie Thomas.
    Students in grade 3 through 5 will take part in DrumFit, a drumming-based activity that promotes mental focus as well as physical and musical education.
  • Virtual Reality with Google Cardboard
    Orange Avenue School
    Applicant: Shannon DellaFortuna.
    Students in grades 6 through 8 will use Google Cardboard glasses, smartphones, and virtual reality apps to simulate science-related adventures like traveling in space or exploring the oceans.
  • STEM Learning
    Brookside Place School
    Applicant: Carolyn Chelland.
    This grant paid for materials needed for problem-solving exercises—like how to clean up an oil spill or make a self-propelled car—that will bring together the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math) for second graders.
  • STEM/Gifted and Talented Program Development
    Orange Avenue School
    Applicant: Lisa Lesiak.
    The CFEE supported a teacher attending Confratute, a professional development conference, to learn about strategies for STEM and gifted and talented education that would be shared with educators in grades 3 through 5 districtwide.
  • 3-D Printing and Design
    Cranford High School
    Applicant: Liz Azukas.
    A 3-D printer, and accompanying software, is being procured to support student projects across a variety of subjects including science, applied technology, computer science, business, social studies, and fine arts.

Ist Annual CFEE Team Trivia Night Raises Funds for Grants

Sept. 13, 2016

At its first annual Trivia Night on April 23, 2016 the Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence (CFEE) raised nearly $8,000 to support innovative approaches to learning in the Cranford public schools.

The CFEE awards grants to teachers who want to bring advanced resources into their classrooms to inspire and engage students in new ways.

More than 250 people attended this year’s sold-out event, held at the Cranford Community Center. Twenty-five teams competed to answer questions in ‘social’ studies (current events), local geography (Cranford), phys ed (sports), science, music (audio round), and history, with a bonus ‘substitute teacher’ round to identify movie stills with education themes!

DJ Randy Geis, trivia-master Brian Andrews and our MC Gary Pascal led the competing teams through six rounds of challenging questions. Team ‘IU Crew’ took home the inaugural trophy.

Speakers included one of last year’s grant recipients, Therese Koellner, a teacher at Bloomingdale Avenue School who helped found the CFEE 20 years ago. “I can tell you firsthand that grants that this organization awards to teachers benefit not just those directly participating in a program, but through sharing and publicity, the grants create a stirring of conversation among the staff,” she said. “This in turn unlocks the potential in others to try something new.”

“Of course, without a doubt it is the students who are the greatest recipients of these inspiring initiatives.”

This event was made possible with support from the Cranford Township Committee, the Cranford Recreation & Parks Department, and the Cranford Board of Education. The CFEE board is grateful to our sponsors Jill Wohrle & Brian Andrews, the Cranford Jaycees, The Rotary Club of Cranford, and Szeles Construction, LLC.

Last year, the CFEE awarded more than $19,000 in grants for 12 initiatives that bolstered education across the curriculum, from reading and writing to music, public speaking, and the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).

“This year’s grant deadline is May 1” announced CFEE Co-President Peter Turnamian. “CFEE is anticipating nearly $60,000 worth of proposals from Cranford’s educators and the proceeds from this year’s event will be added to additional funds raised this year to help fill those requests.” For more information about the Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence, the impact of its grants, or to add your financial support, please visit

Grants awarded for 2015-16 School Year

July, 2015

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence, a community non-profit organization that works to enhance educational opportunities for students in the Cranford School District, has announced the award of more than $19,000 in grants to fund twelve innovative programs.

The grants benefit Cranford students in classrooms from elementary to high school, in areas ranging from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to music; and from public speaking to Latin. Selected through a competitive application process, and presented to educators, the awards include a “First and Second Grade Engineering” program at Bloomingdale Avenue School; a “Digital Media Club” at Orange Avenue School; and a “Filtered Water Bottle Refilling Station,” to increase sustainability, at Hillside Avenue School.

The Cranford Board of Education accepted the grants in a resolution in June, and the expectation is that new programs will begin in the fall.

“We are pleased to be able to support so many excellent programs, and to have received so many strong applications from our district’s educators,” said Susan Caruso Green, Cranford Fund co-president. “On behalf of the entire board, we thank all the teachers who devoted time and energy to applying for grants.”

Cranford Fund Co-President Peter Turnamian said the hope is that the grants will spark creative learning opportunities for students and show community support for our teachers.

“The Cranford Fund is looking forward to continuing our work, and funding more programs in the future. We aim to host fundraisers during the coming school year where we will seek to inspire greater community involvement and support,” he said.

The grants were selected from among 19 applications.

Started more than 15 year ago, the Cranford Fund has awarded more than $200,000 for educational initiatives that are outside the scope of the regular school budget. For further information, please visit the website, Parents may also learn more about the grants and the Cranford Fund at Back-to-School nights in the fall.

Grants awarded by the Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence are as follows:

  • E-Portfolios for Public Speaking
    Cranford High School
    Teacher: Michelle Balseiro.
    Students in Speech Arts will strengthen their public speaking skills by recording and critiquing their presentations on E-Portfolios.
    Grant amount: $2,900
  • Music Composer’s Toolbox
    Hillside Avenue School
    Educators: Lynn Berry, Dr. Curt Fogas.
    The Composer's Toolbox teaches composition by using a software driven compositional tool. Grade 6 and 7 students receive the program as part of their music cycle. This program opens the doors of creativity for all students, and hands them 21st century tools to explore and create music.
    Grant amount: $6,540
  • Zooming Into Reading & Writing Composition
    Hillside Avenue School
    Teacher: Lynne Davis.
    Using an interactive document camera will allow students to connect better with reading and writing, by viewing and interacting with written work.
    Grant amount: $700
  • Using Technology to Develop as Writers
    Hillside Avenue School
    Teacher: Theresa Juliano.
    Enhances use of technology in the classroom, and allows students to efficiently publish stories and essays, by providing keyboards for the classroom iPads.
    Grant amount: $400
  • First & Second Grade Engineers
    Bloomingdale Avenue School
    Teacher: Therese Koellner.
    Students in grades one and two will conduct problem-based engineering scenarios, allowing them to test theories, research, observe, record data, reflect and write as they move through the learning process to a successful outcome.
    Grant amount: $1,459.16
  • STEM Brings Innovation to LAS
    Livingston Avenue School
    Educator: Filipe Luis.
    Creates a new elementary after-school program focused on STEM. Students will explore technology and engineering solutions, and apply math concepts to address real-life issues and solve problems. The new club is designed to serve as a model, which would then enable a similar opportunity for all students.
    Grant amount: $900
  • The Modern Essence of an Ancient Language
    Cranford High School, Orange Avenue and Hillside Schools
    Teachers: Aileen McGuire, Annamaria Bellino.
    Presents Latin vocabulary in a way that encourages retention and the application of meaning and use. Software builds a connection between image, meaning and pronunciation of the Latin word.
    Grant amount: $1,300
  • Personalized Learning
    Brookside Place School
    Teacher: Rosie Scholz.
    Takes learning outside the confines of a traditional classroom, by giving students the opportunity to choose their own path for learning. Students will conduct research, and become critical thinkers who want to make a positive impact on the world.
    Grant amount: $1,000
  • Digital Media Club
    Orange Avenue School
    Teacher: Daniel Reppert.
    Open to any student with an interest in writing for, filming, editing or producing video about Orange Avenue School, the club plans to produce a video each month. Videos could be broadcast to the community through TV35.
    Grant amount: $398
  • Filtered Water Bottle Refilling Station
    Hillside Avenue School
    Educator: Matthew Fichter.
    Installation of a refrigerated, eco-friendly, electric refillable water fountain will increase sustainability, reducing the number of disposable plastic water bottles used. Community members who use the gymnasium would also benefit.
    Grant amount: $1,400
  • Lego More-to-Math
    Bloomingdale Avenue School
    Teacher: Diane Cruz.
    Uses manipulatives, curriculum materials and interactive software to teach mathematical problem solving to first and second graders. Creates rich mathematics lessons that also inspire teamwork and help students make sense of problems and persevere to solve them.
    Grant amount: $829.95
  • Classroom Arduino
    Orange Avenue School
    Teacher: Steven Van Dam.
    Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than the typical desktop computer. The program will introduce students to the world of electronics and computer programming.
    Grant amount: $1,260.

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