It was a celebration of creativity and innovation as Shelton teachers received Shelton Education Endowment Fund [SEEF] awards during a spring social at Shelton Intermediate School. The grants are \u201cdesigned to fund initiatives outside the school budget,\u201d said School Supt. Freeman Burr. \u201cWe encourage our teachers to reach out and participate.\u201d Six mini-grants, each with a $250 maximum, were given to projects ranging from forensic science and cellular respiration to research on the lifecycle of a baby chick and designing an outdoor garden. Erica McNeil, a science teacher at SIS, received funding for \u201cEngineering Design \u2014 Garden Water Barrels,\u201d a project that allows students to design and create a rain barrel to catch rainwater as a \u201cgreen\u201d watering system for the school garden. Susan Albright, a SIS teacher who\u2019s the adviser of the school\u2019s Photography Club, received a mini-grant for \u201cSnapshots of Our Worlds.\u201d Her students will learn photography techniques as well as printing, matting and displaying their work. \u2018Seed funding\u2019 \u201cThe grants serve as seed funding for projects,\u201d said Valerie Knight-DiGangi, liaison for the SEEF Advisory Committee and program officer at the Valley Community Foundation, the account holder for SEEF. The goal is for teachers who win funding for their projects \u201cto run with them and expand them,\u201d Knight-DiGangi said. The projects appear to have sparked students\u2019 interest. Albright reports that many students in the middle school Photography Club have gone on to enroll in photography classes at Shelton High School, Knight-DiGangi said. \u201cThe mini-grants are designed as exploration,\u201d said Burr, who recently issued a matching grant challenge of $500 to support SEEF. At the May 27 awards ceremony, Terry Jones of Jones Family Farm added $200, another $850 was matched, and Landmark Student Transportation donated $1,000, Knight-DiGangi said. Grow the program Teachers have applied for the mini-grants for the past three years, and as the fund increases, the hope is to boost the number of grants each year, she said. \u201cWe\u2019re not looking to supplant things funded by a city or municipal budget,\u201d Burr said. Rather, the fund aims to enhance educational opportunities, and support \u201cthe four pillars of investment,\u201d including student awards and scholarships, teacher creativity and innovation, career and college exploration, and parent-community engagement. SEEF award-winners also include Elizabeth Shelton School teachers Kerry Mizak and Kelly Young for the \u201cWhat\u2019s Hatching\u201d project for grade three students, and SIS teachers Dawn Guerriero and Penny Zhitomi for their project \u201cNative Species-Scavenger Hunt.\u201d Also, SHS science teacher Patricia Presutto for her project \u201cForensic Science,\u201d and SHS science teacher Mary Clark for \u201cCellular Respiration,\u201d a project that\u2019s part of the AP biology course, where students investigate cellular respiration in multicellular organisms. Tax-deductible donations to SEEF will be accepted and used to support education in Shelton. For more information on SEEF and how to donate, call Knight-DiGangi at 203-924-1023, ext. 336.