Wednesday, Jun 19th

Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation Hosts Relaunch Event

donate 17bWhen the going got tough during school budget discussions this year, we wondered what happened to the Scarsdale Schools Educational Foundation (SSEF). Launched in 2012, the SSEF was established to allow for the use of private funding to fill in gaps in the school budget when tax dollars alone would not suffice. Their mission is to “enhance innovative learning in our classrooms, expanding creative uses of technology and add new equipment and facilities.”

In the intervening years they raised substantial funds that facilitated major improvements in the schools. Most notable is the vast fitness center underneath the gym at Scarsdale High School which is used for physical education classes and team training. The state of the art Design Lab, which is the setting for STEM instruction is another standout addition to the school funded by the SSEF. At the elementary schools, the SSEF funded makerspaces and at the middle school was the beneficiary of renovations to the library. Annual social entrepreneurship grants financed innovative work by Scarsdale students.

However in recent years, several factors aligned to slow the progress of the foundation. First, the leadership that fueled the effort aged out of the schools after their children graduated and moved on. The COVID crisis forced the district to overcome great obstacles to continue to deliver an education to the students. Last, a crisis in the district administration that resulted in the resignation of the superintendent temporarily took the focus off community collaboration.ssef logo 2024

Now the effort is being relaunched by a group of community leaders, headed by Megan Simon, Scott Zemachson, Elinor Etkes, Erica Crisses and Dave Shuster.

On Wednesday evening May 29, 2024 they held an event to announce the relaunch and to enlist community support. On hand was the district administration who outlined the importance of the foundation and their visions of what it may allow the district to accomplish. Simon introduced the initiative and welcomed a large group of supporters and the administration.

Superintendent Drew Patrick showcased the district’s new strategic plan which is illustrated below and will guide future initiatives funded by the SSEF.

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Assistant Superintendent Edgar McIntosh stressed the district’s focus on teaching students “to adapt, collaborate across cultures and conflicts and approach challenges with resilience, tenacity and empathy.” He said, “We look to prioritize learning experiences that foster these qualities.” At the high school this now translates into the science research program, project-based learning and the international learning and exchange programs. He said, “We are interested in designing more opportunities for students and to scale them to reach more students including design experiences, bringing global thought leaders to the district and incentivizing student led design.” He suggested that the support of the SSEF could allow changes to learning spaces to support innovative thinking.

At the middle school he called for “SMS Pathways to Passion.” This initiative would reorganize the quarterly courses to allow students to identify an area of passion and learn about it in well suited spaces.

He noted that many of the elementary school playgrounds are outdated and the equipment is aging. He proposed a student design challenge to come up with innovative equipment which could then be built and installed at the schools.

He concluded with, “Thank you for your partnership and commitment to nurturing the next generation of leaders and innovators. Through your ongoing support, we can make a significant impact on their futures and the world they will inherit.”

Scott Zemachson urged everyone to get on board, welcoming even the smallest donations. He said, “Pennies, nickels and dimes equal quarters. Please make this part of your annual contribution. Everything we donate makes a difference.

He announced that QR codes had been set up to making giving easy. Learn more here about the SSEF here and click here to start giving.

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