By GAIL LOWE

WAKEFIELD — Wakefield Educational Foundation (WEF) outgoing President Beth Hendriks announced the creation of a third endowment fund — the Innovation Endowment — at last Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Hendriks said that one area under review is the science lab at the high school.

“We would like to set specific goals this year,” she said. “We have a partnership with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike, and he knows what is needed for goals. We need goals and something behind them and then we will fundraise to those goals.”

The new Innovation Endowment will provide the following:

• Developmentally appropriate opportunities for students to grow an innate interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

• Develop, improve or expand resources and/or curriculum available in STEM classrooms and other learning environments.

• Ensure students have the core competencies needed to pursue a career or degree in STEM fields.

• Strengthen, pilot and provide activities that support application of classroom STEM knowledge to real-life applications.

• Increase the number and types of opportunities for students and teachers to get to know positive, real-life individuals in STEM careers, making the field more accessible.

“This is a good time for innovation, especially in the realm of technology,” Dr. Zrike told Hendriks. “Your team seems to be growing. It’s so critical to our needs. I’m hoping we get a few key projects underway.”

Typically, WEF grants funds and supports and average of 20 projects every year, and to date $175,000 has been granted with a majority of the grants going toward educational enrichment and environmental studies. The grants support classroom enrichment projects, visiting science programs, Special Education, life skills, theater arts, art, physical education, supplies, books, math and environmental science programs.

Hendriks outlined grant application information as follows:

• Monday, Oct. 20 —Grant proposal deadline via mail or e-mail.

• Monday, Nov. 17 — Grant award notifications sent to applicants via mail.

The WEF website www.wakefieldeducationalfoundation.org contains PDF versions of all the grant applications. (The fall grant cycle opened on Monday, Sept. 22  for enrichment, environment studies and innovation grant applications.)

Grant funding will be awarded and will range from $2,500 for enrichment and environmental studies and $1,000 for innovation grants.

Hendriks said that anyone, including local businesses, who would like to offer financial support should contact the WEF at [email protected]

Following Hendrik’s presentation, school board member Gregory Liakos commented that Steve Jobs was the “innovator of our time” and pointed out that he combined his technical wizardry with design.

He asked that Hendriks and WEF team members to think about cross-curricular learning and how studies cut through traditional subject matter lines and explore relationships of subjects to one another.

One example of cross-curricular instruction would be a school-wide program in “writing across the curriculum,” which would entail teaching writing in every subject.

Teachers of all the arts and sciences, for instance, would develop and implement a writing program in their department that coordinates with other writing programs throughout the school.

Wakefield Educational Foundation Co-Presidents are Colleen Guida and Jen Theriault. Other officers include Treasurer Mary Letchford, Clerk Elizabeth Russell and Directors Hendriks, Mary Jennings, Chris Boulter, Sue Worden and Erin Colliton. Advisory Board of Directors are Gayle Wettach and Linda McManama.

Colliton is the newly elected director and will act as Innovation Liaison with the district as they formulate plans and the district better defines innovation in Wakefield’s classrooms.