Newburyport Education Foundation’s focus for 2021

With students getting back into the rhythm of full-time, in-person learning, spring temperatures starting to become more frequent, and the world returning to some normalcy, I am so happy to share some of the amazing things the Newburyport Education Foundation has been working on that are a direct result of the support we receive from donors like you.

One of the most exciting to me is the new Investment Club forming at the high school. Believed to be the only club like it at a public school in the state, students will learn how to analyze market data and overall investment strategies to purchase real stocks and bonds with the goal of growing the NEF’s quasi endowment.

With guidance from a teacher adviser, three community mentors and the NEF treasurer, students will be tasked with identifying possible investments that will then be presented with their rationale. More information will be announced in early June and the club will officially start in the fall.

A big thank-you to the Institution for Savings for providing an initial investment of $10,000 to start the students off. If anyone would like to donate stock to this initiative, please email me at codonnell@newburyportef.org.

We will continue to partner with Endicott College, funding an advanced studies dual enrollment program at the high school, with three classes offered from now through the fall, including the current criminal justice class.

Upperclassmen have the option to take classes at the high school that are taught by an Endicott professor. Benefits include allowing students to progress to their next academic challenge, ease the transition to college, earn college credits, and shorten a student’s time/cost to earn a degree. The NEF will fund the tuition and students will only be responsible for a registration fee and books/classroom supplies.

We will also be funding a new literacy initiative to ensure that 90% of students will be reading at grade level by third grade. Partnering with the district, Newburyport is committed to a five-year partnership with the University of Connecticut and other organizations, focusing on the latest research around the science of reading.

Throughout this initiative, our K-3 teachers will receive ongoing support through professional development and instructional coaching to expand their capacity to meet the needs of all of our learners. This initiative also includes funding of our program “Preventing Summer Reading Loss,” where qualifying students are mailed books throughout the summer.

Many of you are familiar with the experiential, place-based science programs that have taken place at Nock Middle School. I will never forget having lunch on the waterfront years ago and seeing a wave of kayaks pull up and just loving that this was part of their curriculum.

Since 2010, seventh-graders have spent hundreds of hours getting out of the classroom and into our own community. Through place-based education, they are immersed in our diverse Newburyport environment, engaged in real-world data gathering, learning about subjects such as plants and ecosystems here in our own city.

This program, which cultivates civic engagement and promotes stewardship, is in need of a sustainable plan to provide a safe experience for all students. The NEF will support this with a goal of long-term sustainability for these programs.

As in previous years, we will continue our investment in STEM in grades K-12. We will continue to support the Merrimac River Research Station, a program where high school students earn college credit while studying our waterways.

We will also continue to fund teacher partnership grants, connecting teachers with business partners who then work together to create meaningful educational experiences.

None of these campaigns could come to fruition without you, our amazing donors, who make this all happen for our students.

Carrie O’Donnell is executive director of the Newburyport Education Foundation. More online: www.newburyportef.org.

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