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Trust Commits $1 Million to Swampscott Education

The trust's director says engaging science, technology, engineering and math programs are critical for students' future success.

The Gelfand Family Charitable Trust will dedicate $1 million over four years to inspire interest in scientific discovery among Swampscott students.

The money, $333,000 in the 2011-12 school year, and $233,000 the next three years, will pay for three science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers/coaches.

The teacher/coaches will be stationed at the high school, the middle school and the district’s elementary schools, said at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting.

 Mark Gelfand, a software engineer who lives in Swampscott, is the donor and director of the fund.

Gelfand said concern fuels his efforts.

“I worry that our country is headed in the wrong direction,” he said.

The country’s youth use cell phones but do not design them, he said.

He is worried about the prospects for students with limited science and math knowledge.

The Gelfand money will also fund electronics and bioengineering clubs at the high school, as well as enrichment activities at the district’s three elementary schools.

Gelfand said the best outcome for the STEM proposal would be for more Swampscott students to develop STEM-related hobbies, such as robotics.

Gelfand remembers ripping apart televisions as a child to see how they worked.

He has encouraged students to disassemble electronic components to understand voltage.

Gelfand makes no distinction between fun and scientific inquiry.

They are critical ingredients for the discoveries necessary to answer the world’s pressing health, hunger and energy crises, he said earlier.

Starting next school year, the high school will develop classes in robotics and C++ programming.

The students will apply their lessons to hands-on projects and competitions.

Also, in the fall, the district will have a dedication ceremony for the STEM Wing of the high school, the superintendent said.

Stephen Roberts April 14, 2011 at 11:38 AM
What a great donation from a concerned citizen. I thank you for my children that will benefit from this generous gift and for those who will be inspired to lead them in the training needed for the 21st century.
David Whelan April 14, 2011 at 12:54 PM
This is not the first time Mr Gelfand has donated money to the Swampscott Public Schools. Good job by Dr. Celli and thank you Mr Gelfand.
Ellie Tishler April 14, 2011 at 02:44 PM
The Swampscott School system is blessed to have Mr Gelfand's support and interest. He is an inspiring individual, deeply passionate about technology and science, and realizes how important it is that our country builds future workforces dedicated to creativity, innovation, excellence and achievement. Inquiry is the very foundation for reinvigorating our most valuable resource -- today's youth. As an alumna of the school system, I hope you will reach for the stars and develop an outstanding science and technology curricula that becomes the model for many schools across the state and country. GO SHS!

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