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School Year in Review 2021


As we kick off summer and celebrate the end of the school year, we wanted to take a moment to look back on what MFEE has been able to accomplish with your support this school year. 


We started out in August talking to you and learning what your concerns were.  Over 200 people gathered virtually in two Remote Learning Community Thinks to talk about their concerns for the school year and our community.  These conversations shaped much of MFEE’s work over the school year.


PEEPs: Peer-led Educational Engagement Program was launched in response to COVID and expanded this year.  Every middle school student in PEEPs is paired with a Montclair High School PEEP Leader, and together they focus on things like academic support, time management, figuring out how to overcome obstacles - and just dealing with the ups and downs of school in general. PEEP Leaders were supported and advised by adult coordinators. Special thanks to The Schumann Fund for New Jersey and The Montclair Fund for Women for their support of this program.


Little PEEPs: Little PEEPs brought the PEEPs program to 1st through 5th graders, who participated in weekly outdoor experiences with trained middle and high school students this spring.  School counselors and principals helped connect students in need of extra social/emotional support to the program.


Toasts and Tributes: Toast to the Teachers is a long-standing tradition of the Montclair Public Schools. These family-hosted parties take place at the end of the school year, and ticket sales for the parties help raise critical funds to support MFEE Educational Excellence Grants, which allow teachers and staff to pilot innovative projects, tools, and experiences for our children.  After a year off, families started hosting toasts again, and MFEE hosted a huge end of the year Toast to the Kids to honor their hard work and resiliency during this past year.  We are still offering families the chance to honor staff members with a Teacher Tribute.  Send your favorite staff members notes thanking them for all they did this year! 


Grants to Boost Remote Learning: MFEE allocated $50,000 to fund staff-initiated ideas to boost remote learning. Additionally, MFEE granted $20,000 to the district to fund technology needs such as laptops, software, internet essentials for families in need and more.


Excellence in Equity Grants: MFEE allocated $150,000 to fund grants that address racial and socio-economic inequity in our schools. To ensure these grants are sustainable and impactful, MFEE hired racial equity experts to train and coach our school teams of staff, administrators, students, and parents.  Over three workshops, experts worked with the teams to give guidance and tools to develop strategic and sustainable proposals.  Currently, all of the school teams are working together to refine proposals that enhance the district’s equity vision. Special thanks to The Schumann Fund for New Jersey for their deep support of this work!


Montclair Community Learning Circles on Race:  MFEE’s America to Me: Real Talk Montclair was rebranded and expanded this year. This community-wide process to deepen racial literacy has engaged over 1,000 Montclairians.  Through months-long engagement Learning Circle participants work with trained leaders to understand systemic racism, to unpack their own bias, and to identify individual and collective action to disrupt racism in our schools and in our town. MFEE also recruited and trained community members to now be the facilitator “trainers.” It has become a full-circle community initiative - with community members leading and engaged in all parts of this ongoing program. Join a Learning Circle this fall.


Healing Huddles: Over the spring, small-group parent support circles provided urgent care for the soul.  Through weekly conversations, lightly guided by parents and caregivers who were trained by local therapists/parent coaches to provide just-enough structure and support, caregivers had a space to be heard, understood, and take away something that may help.


Montclair Community Enrichment Center: MFEE worked with the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation to launch the Montclair Community Enrichment Center at the Wally Choice Community Center. The MCEC provided full-day remote learning supervision and support to students whose families could afford these services.  Students were supervised by staff who have experience working with children and have been trained in the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. 


Covid Vaccine Awareness Initiative: MFEE was awarded funding by the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey, a regional grantee of the NJ Department of Health, to execute a broad COVID Vaccine Awareness Campaign shaped by and designed for Black and Brown community members.  MFEE served as the connector, working across a range of organizations to shape and share information.  The core component of the initiative was hiring three part-time Community Health Workers who took the lead on the project and built a foundation for ongoing support to Montclairians. 


Navegadores Escolares: Learning to navigate and access resources in our schools and community can be challenging without a language barrier -- pile on the challenges of arriving during a pandemic, and there are many new Spanish-speaking families in town who need support. Modeling off the success of PEEPs, MFEE is recruiting, training and supporting “parent navigators” who will be matched with an ELL student and their family.  The Navegador will provide direct hands-on support to help the student and family access school and community resources. 


Pass the Mic: Pass The Mic is a new program MFEE piloted at Glenfield to engage and connect students and faculty through music and music making. Participants listened, played, wrote, and created music together to provide support and joy during these challenging times. Pass The Mic was led by Montclair State University Music Therapy graduate students. 


UnMUTE: MHS teens, like their peers across the country, are facing increased mental health stressors. MFEE and Jared's Fund are working together to bring together MHS administrators, students and staff with The JED Foundation to build a more supportive MHS. The Jed Foundation will be strategically working with our MHS team as they develop short and long-term goals to boost mental health resources, policies, and practices. Funds will also help pilot new initiatives to achieve those goals. Special thanks to Partners for Health Foundation for their significant support of this initiative!




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