SFES celebrates Grant awards at Suffield On The Green

By Wendy Pierman Mitzel


Many new and exciting plans for the upcoming Suffield Foundation for Excellent Schools season will be previewed at the organization’s booth during Suffield on the Green this year.


Children can participate in the SFES candy mural creation which celebrates Suffield Schools and ties into a Mural Artist in Residence at McAlister Intermediate School funded by SFES. Parents can stop into see a technology inspired presentation on just how the organization supports innovative learning in Suffield.


Foundation president Christine Mercadante said the booth will showcase new ideas for fundraising and community participation. The SFES annual auction and dinner will be pushed back a year.


“Just as SFES celebrates an educator’s ability to reinvent ideas, SFES will be shifting our focus from our traditional auction gala to pursue an exciting new opportunity to bring the community together in support of SFES and Suffield Public Schools,” she said.


Visitors can check out updates on the recently awarded $27,167 in grants for school programs this Fall. In addition, monies raised during the Raise the Paddle event at the annual auction dinner held in March will fund $7,500 of upcoming mini grants.


The foundation’s grant chair is excited to show off the programs granted funding.

“I am pleased by the wide variety of grants which included innovative projects to enrich the study of math, science and the arts,” she said. “The teachers are committed to continuous improvement and I am proud to have the chance to be a part of enabling their visions. “


Andrade recently presented the grant awards to the Board of Education.

“Our annual 2013 auction, combined with United Way and other donations, and a donation by the Suffield Knights of Columbus (targeted to special education), allowed us to grant funds in the amount of $27,167.  In addition, our Raise the Paddle will fund $7,500 of mini grants next school year,” she explained.


The traditional grants awarded for this year include: storytelling and folklore, heart monitor and mural programs at McAlister and technology and programming for trigonometry and 3-D manufacturing at Suffield High School.

Superintendent Karen Baldwin said she and the Board of Education “are deeply appreciative of the work of the SFES and the impact that the financial resources donated have on our instructional program and teaching and learning across the district.”


It also helps support the shift in teaching methods and standards related to the new Common Core Curriculum.


“The Grant process provides the opportunity to extend learning and acquire unique resources, tools, or even experts such as authors in residence to drive the learning for children and foster innovative classroom practices,” she explained.


The Suffield Foundation for Excellent Schools is an educational foundation that provides support for innovative and exceptional educational programs and opportunities beyond the tax-supported School budget for the benefit of Suffield students. Each year, the SFES Board raises money awards grants designed to achieve this mission.

SFES Celebrates at Sow The Seeds Of Education Annual Dinner and Auction


SFES Featured in Springfield Republican

The Springfield Republican recently ran an article about the Annual SFES Auction Dinner. Read the entire article on the masslive.com website.

SFES Encourages Grant Applications

keyboardThe grant application process is growing to a close for the 2012/13 school year although we are preparing already for next year’s grant season with the upcoming auction.

Suffield Foundation for Excellent Schools (SFES) received numerous applications last month for its traditional grant awards and has spent the year handing out smaller amounts for the newest category: mini-grants.

Since 2002, SFES has awarded more than $500,000 in grant money. Some examples of awarded grants have been additional reading books for a 3rd grade classroom library. A subscription to an educational website, BrainPOP which encompasses more than 650 curricular topics. BrainPOP can be used to introduce a new lesson or topic, to illustrate complex subject matter and to review before a test. Kindles were also purchased for a Special Education Reading Intervention program. There was also a Water Investigation grant awarded, allowing the implementation of a LaMotte SMART Water Analysis Laboratory. This tool is currently used by all of the high school science classes including the agriscience-school.

What makes the grant process with SFES so different and appealing are the diversity of applicants. Not just teachers and administrators are encouraged to apply. Grant proposals are welcome from Suffield Public School personnel, including teachers, administrators, or other school staff members, as well as students, individual Suffield citizens, or other organizations. For example, a student involved with a particular club or organization needs additional supplies for a “Green” experiment. Students are free to apply for a grant with the supervision of their adult club director.

Two separate grants are available to applicants. The traditional grants, with awarded sums up to $20,000, are given out once a year. The mini grant offers an abbreviated application process, less restrictive criteria and is available at more frequent cycles throughout the school year. The mini-grants are given with a maximum dollar value of $500.

SFES Honors Benefactor at Annual Auction

It is fitting that we honor Erwin and Ericka Grimmeisen at this year’s auction, “Sow the Seeds of
Education” as it was Erwin’s initial $20,000 contribution to the Suffield Public Schools in honor of his
beloved Ericka, that resurrected and revitalized a years- defunct educational foundation. That “seed
money” spurred the formation of the Suffield Foundation for Excellent Schools which in the 11 th year of
its inception has donated more than $531,000 to the Suffield public school system and established an
endowment fund.

Erwin, who died last year at the age of 101, was born in Germany and arrived in the U.S. as an infant.
He returned to Germany in 1920 where he received his education and earned a degree in mechanical
engineering. Returning to the U.S. in 1934 he worked for the Bosch Company and later for Hartford
Machine Screw, Stanadyne, and Hamilton Standard. He was a founding member of the Springfield
Ski Club and a lifetime member of the Appalachian Mountain Club among other civic and recreational
organizations. In 1937 he married Ericka Langhammer and together they raised 4 children in Suffield
where they lived for over 50 years.

Ericka was born in Illinois and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts where she attended Cathedral High
School. Although it was unconventional at the time, she attended and graduated from Connecticut
College for Women where she majored in zoology. Upon graduation Ericka, a spunky young woman,
embarked on a cross country trip with a girlfriend in an old Studebaker. Upon returning home she
applied her science knowledge in her job at the Springfield Museum of Natural Science. She was over
40 when she received her Masters in Education from the University of Hartford and began her teaching
career in West Hartford. She later taught first and second grade at the West Suffield Elementary School
for over 10 years. Her belief in enriching the curriculum stirred her into paying her own money for a
piano which she had brought into her classroom so that she could play music for the students.

Because of Ericka’s belief in enriching the curriculum, it was fitting that Erwin’s gift in her memory
was restricted to providing enrichment opportunities to elementary school age students. We are very
grateful to the Grimmeisen family and their descendants who continue to financially support the SFES,
and we are pleased that Erwin lived long enough to see how the seed that he planted in his wife’s name
grew and prospered.

SFES Approves $46,000 in Grants for Suffield Schools

SFES shared its 2012 Grant Awards during a Board of Education meeting at Suffield High School. The $46,838 in grants were distributed between five yearly Grants and eight Mini Grants, monthly awards of up to $500 that were newly created awards this school year.

“We are very pleased,” said Grants Chair Maria Andrade. “This year, we received six excellent proposals for the standard Grants and 15 for Mini Grants totaling almost $84,000 in grant requests. We simply could not fund the number of well researched and innovative ideas included in the proposals we received.”

Superintendent Karen Baldwin commended the organization for supporting programming that “leverages opportunities for all children.”

“This has been a wonderful entryway for me to see the work you do in the community and passion to provide more than what the budget allows,” she said. “It’s a strong partnership.”

According to Andrade, the group was able to fund the large grants thanks to the annual 2012 auction, combined with United Way and other donations, and a donation by the Suffield Knights of Columbus targeted to special education.

Below is a summary of the grant awards:

  • Suffield Middle School: Student News Production equipment and curriculum and raised garden beds for student planting.
  • Suffield High School: Water Analysis Laboratory, Recording and Remixing our History program needs including digital voice recorders for interviews, and equipment for the Ecology and Outing Club.

Below is a summary of the Mini grant awards:

  • Spaulding: Lunchtime Conversation Towers, third grade Non-fiction Classroom Library supplies
  • Suffield Middle School: Brain Pop software, eighth grade Project Runway supplies, a digital camera for the Newsletter & Photo Club and supplies to create an outdoor classroom.
  • Suffield High School: Lacrosse Team funding for a portion of the annual cultural trip, Kindles for Special Education and Digital Recorders for reading support for Special Education.

The 10th Annual SFES Auction was a Success!

The Suffield Foundation for Excellent Schools raised nearly $45,000 from the organization’s March 31 Auction and Dinner held at the Sheraton Bradley Airport. We could not have done so without the generous support of the volunteers who donated their time, individuals and businesses who donated items for auction and those 230 guests who attended the dinner to bid on an array of wonderful gifts and prizes. Thank you!

A special thank you goes out to the student floral designers of the Future Farmers of America Chapter at Suffield High School. The students created and arranged the table centerpieces and other decorations with the leadership of teacher Laura LaFlamme.


New Mini Grant Program!

In order to award more funding for smaller programs, SFES created the new Mini Grant. Mini Grants offer an abbreviated application process and a less restrictive criteria than our traditional grants. Unlike traditional grants, Mini Grants are available at more frequent cycles throughout the school year. Maximum amount of a mini grant is $500.

Proposals are welcome from Suffield Public School personnel, including teachers, administrators or other school staff members, as well as students, individual Suffield citizens, or other organizations.

For more information about the grants program, go to the Apply for a Grant page. Questions about the grant process should be e-mailed to the Grants Committee Chair as indicated in the MiniGrant Request for Proposal.

SFES Seeks Nominations for Hall of Honor

The Hall of Honor was established in 2003 by the SFES to inspire students through exceptional role models and to instill a sense of tradition and pride in the schools as well as the community at large. Graduates of Suffield High School who have achieved exceptional success, contributed to the welfare of others or been recognized for an individual outstanding accomplishment are worthy of consideration. In addition, an “Excellence in Education” award is simultaneously given to a retired educator who has taught for at least 10 years in the Suffield Public Schools and has had a profound impact on Suffield students.

We are seeking nominations for five alumni and one educator to be inducted in the spring of 2012. If you know of a Suffield High School graduate who you think should be included in the Hall of Honor or a teacher who has had a significant impact on your education, please let us know by visiting the Hall of Honor Nomination page.

An ad hoc committee of community members and SFES Board members make the selections from the many nominations that are received. An assembly will be held at the high school in the spring to present the awards.

SFES Looks Forward To Fundraising And Fun

SFES was the subject of a recent Suffield Patch article where staff writer and board member Wendy Pierman Mitzel discussed the addition of six new board members and the upcoming annual auction.  Updated information about the auction will be posted on the Upcoming Events page.