Groton on the Inside: Groton Education Fund awards teacher grants


The Groton Education Fund, a non-profit organization operating independently from the Groton Central School District, and affiliated with the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, recently awarded elementary school teachers, Erin D’Antonio and Sarah Neff, and high school life and agricultural science teacher, Dr. Jason Oliver, funding for innovative projects within their respective schools in the district.

Per its mission statement, the GEF was established in 2007 “to provide financial support for educational initiatives that supplement and enrich Groton Central School” and is made up of an advisory board of volunteers from the Groton community.

Teachers from any grade level, K-12, may submit a proposal to this board. Projects selected for funding are those outside the realm of the district’s general operating budget. They are evaluated based on their ability to support GCS students by demonstrating a focus on academic excellence that is innovative, as well as supporting financial efficiency and opportunities for collaboration and partnership with other entities.

D’Antonio and Neff submitted a joint proposal and were awarded $500 to help establish “The Wonder Space;” an interactive learning space for pre-school through school-aged children up to 6 years of age that will provide integrated activities to foster the development of foundational learning skills.

The Wonder Space will be a permanent installation in the elementary school that is available for student or family use at any time the building is open and is designed to build collaboration between families in the community, the schools, and other early literacy organizations such as The Family Reading Partnership and The Children’s Reading Connection.

With no cost to the families, The Wonder Space offers a safe, comfortable, and engaging place for them to come and have access and opportunity to read or hear over 1,000 books before they even enter the school system. They will also have access to play resources, language and literacy activities, and much more.
Neff and D’Antonio are enthused about the opportunities for children to uncover how they learn, grow, create, and communicate best with the developmentally-appropriate resources the space will offer.

Oliver was also awarded a $500 grant for his project, “Classroom Hydroponics,” wherein his Groton Agriculture Club (soon to be Future Farmers of America) students will design, build, and operate a hydroponic system to produce salad greens and culinary herbs.

“Hydroponics is a highly-productive strategy of growing garden plants in nutrient-rich water, instead of soil, that is well-suited for classroom environments,” said Oliver.

Classroom Hydroponics will be led by the Groton Agriculture Club students but will also be a learning resource for seventh-grade science classes, high school students in agricultural classes, and other sciences.

“This project will provide students with an opportunity to design and research a real-world system, learn about plant nutrition, modern agricultural practices, and safe food handling, and to earn the tangible satisfaction of producing delicious and healthy food,” Oliver said. “In addition to the educational value of this project is the goal of producing fresh produce for the school cafeteria. A hydroponics system will provide Groton students the opportunity to learn about a modern agricultural practice that enables year-round production of fresh produce.”

In partnership with the Groton Alumni Association and Groton Central School, the Groton Education Fund also makes engraved bricks in the GCS memory garden available to honor or commemorate a loved one – living or deceased.
For those who may not know, the memory garden is a circular brick area surrounded by ornamental trees, benches, and a sitting wall, located at the northeast corner of the track at the Groton High School, 400 Peru Road.
Parents of seniors are particularly encouraged to consider purchasing a brick to honor their graduate in this lasting and meaningful way. I personally purchased one when my son graduated in 2009, and it’s such a nice thing to see his name and class year whenever I walk the track up there.

Proceeds from the sale of the bricks benefit the Groton Alumni Association and are used by the GEF to award innovative grants to teachers, such as the projects featured in this article.

The GEF would gladly welcome any interested community members to join its advisory board. For more information, or to order a brick, contact board chair, Eric Harrington, at (607) 898-4746 or

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.


Breakfast at Rod and Gun Club
In concert with its Winter Trap and Skeet League, the Groton Rod and Gun Club, 888 Elm Street Ext., is offering breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. every Sunday through March 24. The public is welcome.

The menu includes two eggs with bacon, sausage, or ham, or an omelet with either cheese or choice of one meat, along with home fries, toast, and coffee for $5, one egg on muffin or toast with cheese, ham, sausage, or bacon for $3, pancakes with meat and/or eggs, or sausage gravy and biscuits for $5 each.
All proceeds help to maintain this valuable resource in our community.

We’ve got Annie!
For the 14th consecutive year, under the direction of Groton High School’s Drama Club director, Mrs. Annette Twitchell, another fabulous musical will grace the stage of the high school auditorium at 400 Peru Road.

Plan now to attend one, or all, of the shows; Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 16 at 1 and 7 p.m., as GHS presents “Annie.”

Twitchell brought musicals back to the Groton stage for the first time in two decades with “The Wizard of Oz” in 2006. Each year since has continued to bring talented students together with some amazing musical productions. You won’t want to miss it!

Groton Olde Home Days
It’s never too early to save the date for Groton Olde Home Days. This treasured community event will be held Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 22 through 24 this year. Mark your calendar now and keep up with the plans at or search on Facebook for Groton Olde Home Days.


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