June 17, 2019-- Yesterday representatives from OceanFirst Foundation toured Beachwood Elementary School's Bears' DEN, a newly remodeled space thanks to a $10,000 grant from the foundation.
During the tour fourth-grade students from Ms. Gelnaw's class worked alongside kindergartners from Ms. Raleigh's class. Students engaged in hands-on engineering design challenges, read to Charlie the therapy dog, and practiced reading and math skills on iPads that were purchased through the grant.
In attendance were Beachwood Principal Kim Muir; Supervisor Jim Klass; TRRS Director of K-5 Curriculum Cara DiMeo; Director of Funded Programs Estee Mailot; Supervisor of Educational Technology Tiffany Lucey; OceanFirst Foundation Executive Director Kathy Durante; and Vice President and Branch Manager at Ocean First - Bayville Renee Agnello.
The Bears’ DEN is now a space that is used for a variety of multi-sensory learning experiences for both general and special education populations. The school's library collection, STEAM lab, indoor gardening center, and Charlie’s Corner-- a space for the resident therapy dog-- now have a centralized home at Beachwood Elementary.
"It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to see our students interacting with one another now that we have a space where we can address all students’ individual learning needs," said Principal Muir.
Since its completion, students have been eager to use the sensory tools, flexible seating options, newly-organized book collection, and technology skillfully and meaningfully.
"We are incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication that went into creating a space that embodies inclusive learning, helps to build students' social and emotional competencies, and offers students meaningful opportunities to enhance their 21st century skill set," said Klass.
In addition to OceanFirst Foundation-- which toured Citta Elementary School last month-- a number of other partners helped fulfill the school's vision. Paint and tile were provided by the district. The Beachwood Elementary PTO donated funds which were used to install a new touch screen projector and provide materials to support yearly STEAM initiatives. The PTO also assisted in painting the space to kick off the 2018-2019 school year.
Beachwood Elementary has an ongoing partnership with the New Jersey Agricultural Society, which provides gardening-themed lesson plans, various seeds and plants, and well as professional development to support teachers in using the garden skillfully.
Additional photos of the new space and today's tour are featured below.