PORTLAND – The Portland Education Foundation will end its first year with a private garden tour to raise money for a grant program that funded 10 special projects in the city’s public schools in recent months.

“Secret Gardens of Portland” will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, when gardening enthusiasts will be able to visit 10 private gardens around Portland on a self-guided tour.

The foundation, which developed out of the former Portland Education Partnership, awarded $300 grants to 10 projects in mid-January. The foundation had received 26 applications from teachers in 13 of the city’s 18 schools.

“We were happy to be able to continue to give out grants at the local level,” said Mary Gross, a foundation board member. “We only wish we could have done more.”

As the Portland Education Partnership, the group operated within the school administration for two decades and was partially funded by the city’s taxpayers.

The foundation is volunteer-driven and will work outside the school administration to advocate for education, increase fundraising for special programs and improve communication about the city’s schools, Gross said.

Similar groups support schools in Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Gorham, Cumberland and North Yarmouth.

The foundation’s five-member board plans to become more active by expanding membership and holding a road race next spring to raise more money for grants, Gross said.

This year, the registered nonprofit awarded grants for these projects:

• Reiche Community School teachers Cathy Jurgelevich, Lynn Cunin, Jessie Lozenby and Linda Goiou took fourth-graders to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray as part of a project on the geography, food, government, history and native species of Maine.

• Portland High School teacher Deborah Keyes led English and photography club students in producing a documentary photo exhibition for the Meg Perry Community Center.

• Casco Bay High School teachers Ben Donaldson, Helen Weigel and Frank Donovan took students to the Boston Museum of Science and had them design models that demonstrated physics and math concepts in action.

• East End Community School teachers Ina Demers and Jane Charron offered a read-aloud program for students who are learning to speak English that was based on the paper-folding art of origami.

• Sex education teachers Margaret Ranaghan Hoyt and Charles Morrison brought in guest speakers and peer educators to address topics of sexual harassment, sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s high schools.

• Clifford Elementary School teachers Monica Hanson and Cathy Gurney introduced a variety of science, math and technology concepts by having students produce a video about the ongoing construction of the Ocean Avenue Elementary School.

• Deering High School teacher Polly Wilson developed a biochemistry project that showed students how to design containers, choose crops, plan nutrient systems and analyze data on laptop computers.

• King Middle School teachers Marcia Salem and Catherine Paul led an expedition of food sources, nutrition and digestion that connected biology and art for students who are learning to speak English.

• Hall Elementary School teacher Sandy Sherry produced a hands-on science project for her kindergartners that required them to use digital cameras and microscopes and publish books documenting their learning.

• Deering High School teacher Karen Shibles developed a lab project for students in her forensic science class that required them to do fingerprint analysis to determine who had stolen a coffee mug.


Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]