Realistic Education and Learning In a Fun Environment

As the world becomes smaller, children living in small rural communities need more opportunities to learn about and accept differences and commonalities they hold with others. Donna Buxton, Joe Romana, and Kathy LoPresti, teachers at New Egypt Elementary School (Plumsted Township, Ocean County), created R.E.A.L.I.F.E. - Realistic Education and Learning in a Fun Environment to help special needs students to discover and enhance their strengths in a fun-filled educational environment. This project, funded through a $9,980 grant from the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education and Verizon will create an awareness that each child is a productive and integral part of the community. The program allows students with a variety of abilities and disabilities opportunities to explore friendships and a sense of belonging with families and their community.

Students will develop and improve socialization skills through travel in the community and participation in a weekly Friendship Club. Through an "Evening of Caring," working with family and community members, students complete a creative service learning project demonstrating their ability to help others. A community "Diversity Day" will help students increase their knowledge of commonalities and help them embrace differences among people.

Through travel/community-based instruction, creative arts, and food/cooking skills students will "hit the road" after practicing money handling and purchasing skills in class.

Activities will include:

  • Writing and speaking about their travels and the photos taken;
  • Learning about table setting, reading recipes, using utensils, and making simple foods;
  • Dancing, singing, and arts and crafts will provide opportunities for self-expression.

In-kind contributions are in place from a neighborhood restaurant, staff members who have donated appliances and cookbooks, janitorial staff who set-up the program space, and the district?s transportation department.

Verizon supports family literacy programs in which public school educators partner with libraries or other community organizations and is an NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education partner.

For further information, contact:

Donna Buxton
(856) 596-7081