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Auburn Education Foundation: Prize drawing funds yoga, more grants

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Gina Gera, senior vice president of operations for Syracuse-area Wegmans stores, and Bill Tenity, Auburn Education Foundation board member.

"And the winners are..."

This has been the anticipated announcement from the Auburn Education Foundation. This year, AEF held a fundraiser that would raise money to support its teacher grants program while helping local businesses that have been so supportive of AEF during prior Gobble ‘n' Go events. Gift cards were purchased from local businesses and the public could then make donations for chances to win one of four prizes. The drawing was held at Wegmans, the presenting sponsor for Eats ‘n' Treats for Education. The grand prize (a $500 Wegmans gift card and a $500 Mirbeau gift card) was won by Marybeth Galka. First prize ($500 in assorted gift cards) went to Kristin Newton. Kathie Collier was the winner of the second prize ($300 in assorted gift cards) and the third prize ($200 in assorted gift cards) was won by Ann Padula. AEF gratefully thanks Wegmans and the following who generously supported this event: RCJB Energy Consultant, LLC; DVG Law, P.C.; Carbonaro & Brune, P.C.; Michaels & Smolak, P.C.; Norman J. Chirco, Esq; R.G. Wright Agency; Savannah Bank; the Auburn Teachers Association; and Jacobs Press.

Money raised from this event goes to support unique learning opportunities for students within the Auburn Enlarged City School District. These are teacher-originated projects that, due to budget constraints, cannot be funded by the district. This fall, AEF was able to support four grants worth more than $8,500, as well as a special grant worth $24,050 for a total of just over $32,000.

“My Beating Heart,” a grant awarded to the Auburn Junior High School, will fund the incorporation of wrist-based heart rate monitors into physical education program. The monitors will allow students to track their own progress in physical health based on their personal data while learning how to live a healthy lifestyle based on one’s own body.

A first grade classroom at Herman Avenue Elementary will learn self-awareness and mindfulness using yoga with the grant “Yoga Mats for Calming.” These mats will be shared with other classrooms so that more students can benefit from learning yoga’s calming techniques.

Also at Herman, funding will be provided for the grant “Sensory Solutions for an Inclusive World.” This project will create student-centered access to sensory activities and tools to help those children having difficulty regulating environmental stimuli due to sensory system deficits. Students will be taught how these tools can be utilized to maintain focus and optimize learning. Items in this grant can be used by children in other classrooms, and will be lent out so more children will benefit from these activities.

The last grant will give all elementary students access to weekly math puzzles as a fun and effective way to develop computational fluency. These puzzles will challenge all students, including those who need enrichment and can also be modified for those who need additional help.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is being used in district elementary schools and the junior high school. PBIS is a framework for the use of prevention and intervention practices that support the academic, emotional and behavioral competence of all students. PBIS involves prompting, modeling, practicing and encouraging positive expected behavioral and social skills. Each school has its own system of rewards. At Auburn Junior High School, Maroon Bucks are handed out to those students demonstrating the expected behavior. Students save this “currency” and use it to “purchase” smaller items such as pens, snacks, $5 gift cards (McDonald's, pizza shops, etc.) or raffle tickets for larger items such as skateboards and AirPods. At Seward, students earn Bee Bucks and can exchange them for a token for the book vending machine funded two years ago by an AEF grant.

The Auburn Education Foundation recognizes the importance of behavioral programs that help students learn and engage in appropriate school behaviors. Therefore, AEF has awarded a special project grant to fund a one-time grant to Auburn Junior High School to stock its PBIS store, as well as a grant to Casey Park, Genesee, Herman Avenue and Owasco elementary schools to fund a book vending machine, like the one at Seward, for each of those buildings. These vending machines, centrally located, will also serve as motivation to read.

All the above grants were made possible by community support of AEF’s fundraisers. We thank sponsors and those who donated to AEF for the most recent Eats ‘n' Treats for Education. We respectfully ask for continued support through our annual appeal, which will be conducted through the end of the year. Donations can be made online at or by mailing a check to AEF, P.O. Box 592, Auburn, N.Y. 13021. Auburn Education Foundation, with your support, will be able to fund more of these great projects! 

Janie Hutchinson is a member of the Auburn Education Foundation Board of Directors. For more information, visit


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