Wellington introduces annual Keely Spinelli grants to principals

Principals of Wellington Public Schools gather with village and school district officials to celebrate this year’s Keely Spinelli Grant awards. Photo courtesy of the Village of Wellington

There was a celebratory atmosphere on Tuesday October 11 when Wellington Village Council hosted head teachers from area schools for the presentation of the annual Keely Spinelli Grant Awards.

The Keely Spinelli Grant provides nearly $400,000 to be split among Wellington’s 11 schools – Binks Forest Elementary School, Elbridge Gale Elementary School, Equestrian Trails Elementary School, New Horizons Elementary School, Panther Run Elementary School, Wellington Elementary School, Polo Park Middle School, Emerald Cove Middle School, Wellington Landings Middle School, Palm Beach Central High School, and Wellington High School.

The money comes from the Department of Community Services budget and is designed to help village schools support underachieving students.

The grant began more than two decades ago and was designed to provide direct help to struggling readers and math students. It was later enlarged and named for Keely Spinelli, Headmaster of Binks Forest Primary School. It has awarded more than $3 million to schools since its inception.

In a video shown to the board, four principals spoke about the grant.

“The Keely Spinelli grant means the world to us,” said Michella Levy, current director of Binks Forest. “Thanks to this grant, we were able to increase our gains in reading by almost 20% and our gains in mathematics by 18%.”

Principal Dana Pallaria of New Horizons said the grant is bringing “equity” to the school, while principal Lindsay Ingersoll of Wellington Landings said the grant is changing lives for her, students, staff and community. community.

Principal Darren Edgecomb of Palm Beach Central explained that the grant allows for more focus on students who need it most.

Students ranked in the lowest 25th percentile, Levy explained, can benefit from tutoring. The Pallaria school also offers tutoring, as well as additional educational programs thanks to more computers and STEM programming on iPads. Additional technology, classroom libraries and tutoring are provided at Wellington Landings, Ingersoll said. At Palm Beach Central, the grant offers before and after school tutoring, as well as on weekends, and students receive incentives based on their performance.

Last year at New Horizons, Pallaria said, math learning gains increased 10% schoolwide, and students in the lowest 25th percentile rose from 38% to 67%.

“We have so many successes with funding from Keely Spinelli,” Ingersoll said. “Two years ago, our students achieved significant gains in our English Language Arts…72% of our students we target through the Keely Spinelli Scholarship achieved over two years of growth in one year.”

Superintendent Michael Burke and School Board member Marcia Andrews attended the meeting to thank the village for funding the grant.

“I can’t say enough good things about this partnership,” Burke said, adding that West Palm Beach is interested in creating a similar program.

Andrews personally knew and worked with Spinelli, she said, and received the grant when she was director of Polo Park.

“You’re always looking for ways to improve our kids, to make sure they all do well,” she said, calling Wellington a role model for county and state schools.

Mayor Anne Gerwig pointed out that each school will receive $36,363 – and is doing a lot with the funding.

“Mr. Burke, I appreciate the partnership, but you got the job done,” she said. “It’s a small commitment on our part, and I just can’t imagine what you’ve done. with that and how proud we are of the alliance we have with you.”

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