Elevate Toms River Principals’ Innovation Challenge

THE PEOPLE:

David Healy

Superintendent Toms River Regional Schools

Principals

from each of the Toms River Regional Schools

THE IDEA

The Foundation had been working Superintendent David Healy, administration and teachers from and the Toms River Regional Schools (TRRS) on advancing STEAM education for over a year when an idea struck. While talking with Mr. Healy and the principals, we heard so many incredible plans for the students, we wanted to provide the opportunity for all TRRS principals to apply for a grant to be used for a program that would advance innovation in education. The programs had to propose an original learning experience that links to the curriculum, fosters interdisciplinary learning and of course, be accepted by the school district. The Foundation would provide up to $10,000 for each winning principal.

THE IMPACT

We received 19 applications – one from every school in the Toms River District. We were blown away by how impressive and creative each program was and funded every principal! The programs all emphasized STEAM education, utilizing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.  Students were learning how to think, not what to think.  Problem solving, experiments and real-life practices were implemented, using what inspired the students and their imagination.

Another wonderful outcome of all of these programs was collaboration.  Not only were the students working together, they were also learning from and working with policy makers, municipal authorities and industry experts. They learned skills needed to navigate life outside of the classroom.

THE UPDATE

The principals, teachers and students have been working hard on their projects and we’ve been receiving great updates.

Toms River High School South’s robotics team, Voltron, has been attending several community events. They’ve collaborated with other groups and have learned how to program the robot to drive autonomously!

Toms River High School East’s Weatherhawk weather station is hooked up and has already been a very beneficial resource in class.  Students are able to analyze data and better understand weather and the atmosphere.

Silver Bay Elementary has created Tech Ambassadors, a group of 5th grade students who give up their recess periods to explore and create activities for the Sphero robots.

East Dover Elementary students created an amazing learning area where they can think and problem solve like scientists. In addition, they built a greenhouse and partnered with Rutgers Master Gardeners, who have provided their staff and students trainings and assemblies on the process of vermiculture and planting.

To see all of the TRRS projects as a result of the Elevate Toms River Principals Innovation Challenge, check out this video by Tom DeAngelis of The Production House, LCC.