ribbon cutting

Silver Bay Elementary students cut the ceremonial ribbon during an event Nov. 19 celebrating the Exploring the Many Wonders of Our Planet project, a grant initiative funded by OceanFirst Foundation.

OceanFirst Foundation Model Classroom Grant Funds Project

Nov. 20, 2019-- The latest stop on OceanFirst Foundation’s tour of its Model Classroom Grant-funded projects was Silver Bay Elementary School, which yesterday showed off its remodeled media center and Exploring the Many Wonders of Our Planet project.

Silver Bay, along with Beachwood, Citta, Intermediate South, and East Dover, was one of five district schools to earn OceanFirst Foundation’s Model Classroom Grant in 2018. With it, they implemented a project aimed at transforming its media center-- dubbed the Innovation Sandbox-- to the school’s primary hub.

“Silver Bay is a really special place,” said Principal Mike DeVita of his school, which hosts the district’s elementary-level multiply disabled (MD) program. “For our MD students, we incorporate them into everything we do … and this space is the heart and soul of Silver Bay.”

The $10,000 model classroom project was designed by Silver Bay technology teacher Vicki Rhein and special education teacher Courtney Zaragoza, with guidance and support from DeVita and Supervisor Courtney Norcross. The goal of the Exploring the Many Wonders of Our Planet project was to make the Innovation Sandbox a hub where groups gather to share, explore, communicate, collaborate, and make memories, utilizing various stations featuring augmented reality (AR) apps and books, multisensory devices, and even a green screen to learn about and improve our planet.

The results of that vision were on full display Tuesday, and leading the presentation was Silver Bay’s student Tech Ambassadors, who welcomed and thanked OceanFirst Foundation representatives Katherine Durante and Stephanie Toal, and presented them with a thank you poster.

“This environment has sparked our curiosity,” said one student.

Students helped cut the ceremonial ribbon before showcasing the finished space alongside MD and deaf students, highlighting the school’s inclusive environment. Tech stations featuring Jigspace, Quiver Edu, Osmo, and AR books help students learn and communicate. With grant funding, flexible seating, adjustable and repurposed tables, and community bulletin boards were installed to promote collaboration.

The collaborative environment fostered by Innovation Sandbox and Exploring the Many Wonders of Our Planet is not limited to students or even the school day. Thanks to the grant and improvements made to the space over recent years, the media center is used to host a Multiple Disabilities Holiday Bell Performance for families; MD music classes; green screen book reviews and reports; Brandywine Assisted Living get togethers; and the Exploring the Many Wonders of Our World multi-sensory experience period with the MD class.

As a media center, DeVita said the space is aptly named since it's literally in the center of the school, connecting both wings. Thanks to the OceanFirst Foundation grant, however, the space will serve that purpose in spirit as well, by "bringing students together in a space designed for all learners."