Comments at the 10th-Anniversary Celebration of the Gloucester Education Foundation

posted May 9, 2017, 11:05 AM by Richard Safier

GEF’s 10th-Anniversary Celebration May 5, 2017


For the past ten years, the Gloucester Education Foundation has made an enormous contribution in support of the Gloucester Public Schools.  This support has vastly enriched the learning opportunities that we can now provide for our students.  In the areas of literacy, science, art, technology, professional development, grant acquisition, and even the renovation of facilities, GEF has been a proverbial backbone for the innovation and enhancement of programs for students in all grades and at all levels.


Support from the Gloucester Education Foundation has been as consistent as it has been tangible. In 2006-7, GHS supported a number of after school enrichment programs, ballroom dancing, school site councils, after-school World Language, math textbooks, and field studies programs. Since then, GEF’s funds have enabled students to explore engineering, science, and technology through such projects as the building of robots (a continuation of that first level of support), and the design and construction of both suspension bridges and wind-powered vehicles.  In music and art, funding has been provided for kilns, photography, elementary music productions, theater lighting, and for a variety of other special projects.  GEF’s support has enabled our elementary students to learn from real-world theater professionals. Soon, we will have completely refurbished music rooms at the middle school.    And, of course, there is the City Arts Festival and the Mad Hot Ball, to name a couple of favorites.


In technology, the District now has 3-D printers at both GHS and at O’Maley.  We have a full-fledged, state-of-the-art Digital Photography Lab and an entire Computer Science Program where there was none three years ago.  GEF has also provided support for online resource materials and equipment for high school Chemistry, and for the expanded and experimental teaching of Biotechnology and Genomics in the high school biology program. The list could go on and on.


But, I want to mention another aspect to GEF’s support and to your generous support as well. I have recently been reading a book about a philosophy called phenomenology. This philosophy had something to do with my dissertation years ago, and I thought I would revisit the concept. In a few words, phenomenology does not focus on abstract ideas, or concepts, or “isms” (realism, idealism, etc). Rather, it emphasizes the direct examination of real-world objects and their impact on our thinking, and most importantly, it calls for the description, the quality, and the authenticity of direct, lived experience.


It is this notion of direct, lived experience that caught my attention in the context of what GEF does for the Gloucester schools. Because, GEF’s support for our students provides the means for direct, lived experience as far as their education goes. The best learning does not just talk about ideas in art, or science, or history. The best learning enhances those discussions by giving students authentic experiences as artists, and as scientists, and as historians. The resources that enable this to happen, like all resources may be finite, but their potential to impact learning and student growth is invaluable.


So, for the past ten years, the Gloucester Education Foundation has collaborated with and supported the District’s efforts to fulfill its mission and to implement strategies for achieving that mission.  And GEF continues to build and grow support for the Gloucester Public Schools.  Through our common goals, GEF and the District, together, are creating a culture of excellence.  We thank them for all of their efforts. The District is, to say the least, grateful.