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Learning Foundation Rewards Innovative Projects

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Every year the North Salem Foundation for Learning awards $500 each to 10 students who have demonstrated a special interest in learning. The award is not based on grades or test results, said RoseMarie DosSantos, foundation president. "Recipients are most passionate about their chosen subject."

This year's winners were Brittney Andersen (Instrumental Music), Marisa Stark (Visual Arts), Phoebe Foard (Vocal Music), James Batchelder (Mathematics), Michael DeBartolo (Technology), Ethan Bassin (Science), William Pearson (English), David Mossman (English), Taylor Cotter (Social Studies) and Claire Foster (World Language).

Teachers are asked to nominate a student. The winning students, chosen by the schools, are then asked to select the teacher who has made the greatest impact on his or her education. The chosen teacher is not necessarily the one who has made the nomination. At the awards ceremony each student and the teacher of his or her choice delivers a short speech.

The goal of the foundation is to enhance the quality of education in North Salem by finding and funding innovative and inspiring proposals. The organization's reach goes far beyond scholarships.

Kindergarten teacher Jane Burdett, for example, devised a way to help her special education children improve listening and communication skills through the use of iPads. The foundation was impressed with the proposal and provided three iPads for the kindergarten class.

"Some proposals we receive are broad-based and long-lasting. Others are a one-time thing," DosSantos explains. "Both teachers and students can write proposals to seek funding. We look for things that are beyond the school budget."

There are other aims as well. "We take pride in the moral compass of our students. We try to instill respect, compassion and tolerance as part of our everyday curriculum. Community service is important."

Last year the newly created President's Award was given to a student who exemplified these qualities. The winner was Torrie Crenson.

DosSantos points out, "funding for special programs is more important since the economic crisis has reached the school budget." The foundation, which is non-profit and entirely volunteer, is eager for new members and donors.

On Saturday, September 17, the 2011 Homecoming Hullabaloo fundraiser at the Daros home will start at 7 p.m. It is a casual but unique outdoor event, with food and entertainment. Admission is $50 per person.

Tickets are available online or by calling RoseMaria DosSantos at 914-669-4645.

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