TOMS RIVER – The Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation has pledged two new grants totaling $345,000 over the next 3 years to the Toms River Regional School District.
Those grants will support a Youth Counseling Program in all 18 district schools, and a coding and robotics makerspace in Intermediate North and Intermediate South.
The Youth Counseling Program is being piloted at four schools. The grants will amount to $65,000 over 3 years.
“From a health and wellness standpoint, everything we’ve been doing over the past few years has been leading up to this,” Assistant Superintendent Debra McKenna said, “including development of a K-12 committee dedicated to a summer health and leadership camp, participation in the Toms River Family Health and Support Coalition, a focus in training on social-emotional learning, and the successful pilot of this counseling model.”
Individual sessions and parent/guardian support will be offered in this expanded program. Licensed therapists will have office hours in each school based on need, offering counseling about school difficulties, parent/child conflicts, trauma, anger management, bereavement and adjustments to life changes.
Over 2 years, the coding and robotics grant will total $150,000, first at Intermediate North next school year and Intermediate South in 2020-21.
“Ideally, every classroom across the curriculum would be fully equipped to support project-based learning models where students can brainstorm personal solutions to local and global problems,” Assistant Superintendent Marc Natanagara said, “but most school budgets can’t support that. So the next best thing is a shared space for students and staff to learn these techniques and have access to diverse tools and materials.”
Those classrooms are based on the grant-funded Innovation Station at Intermediate East.
Edele Hovnanian, president of the foundation, visited the schools to tour two renovated spaces the foundation funded, the Real Estate and Business Incubator at High School South, and Anatomy and Physiology Lab at High School East.
“Ms. Hovnanian’s reinvestment in our schools could not come at a better time, as we face extreme fiscal challenges and seek to continue providing our students the education they deserve,” Board President Joseph Nardini said. “The programs her foundation chose to support are as diverse as our students, and both will make them better-prepared for the world ahead. We’re a better school district because of Edele Hovnanian’s support and we’re fortunate to call her a partner.”