Friends of the Marblehead Public Schools Announces Fall Drive, New Board

The Friends of the Marblehead Public Schools will be reaching out to all Marblehead residents this fall for its annual fundraising “Friends Drive.” Each year, donations to the FMPS’ annual Friends Drive in the fall and to the organization’s Summer Soiree in the late spring establish the core budget for grant funding annually.

Over its 23-year history, FMPS has contributed more than $1.3 million to all of the Marblehead public schools to all core subject areas: math, sciences, technology, arts, community-building activities and professional development for teachers.

2013drive“Please look out for the FMPS Friends Drive pamphlet coming out in October in your mailbox and in the backpacks of kindergarten-to-third-grade students,” FMPS President Lillie Lombardi said. “We have redesigned the drive again this year to bring continued awareness of the FMPS organization, and any donation of any size is greatly appreciated. It’s a terrific opportunity as a resident to help FMPS with the continued efforts to fund innovative grants that will impact the education of our students and professional development for our teachers in Marblehead.”

Lombardi will serve again as president and Molly Bushman as vice president. Linda Maude will return as treasurer, and Tracy Orloff will return as clerk on the organization’s board officers. New to the FMPS board are Ann Mizner-McKay and Mandy Murphy. The full board includes Michelle Abrams, Peter Brennan, Tish Burke, Anson Clough, Connie Cooney, Stephanie Curran, Maura Dartley-Rocco, Patrice Fox, Linda Guy, Stephen Kauffman, Brett McCarty, Annemarie Rockwell, Lindsay Ryan, Peter Schalck, Meryl Thompson, Nancy Thorne and Laura Tyrrell.

FMPS funds groundbreaking initiatives outside of the school budget. Often, these projects become ongoing parts of the curriculum that students point to as their most memorable, the organization noted. FMPS is a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) organization and does not fund building repairs and maintenance, staff salaries or operating costs.

FMPS Celebrates Arts Grants

The Friends of the Marblehead Public Schools is kicking off the 2014-15 school year boosted by last year’s success: Thanks to the community’s generosity, FMPS funded over $150,000 worth of grants, including a $50,000 grant to create a wireless network at Marblehead High School. Last spring, FMPS announced an exciting mix of new grants that will benefit every school and child in the Marblehead public school system. They include grants for education enrichment in areas including world languages, fine arts, special education and physical education as well as teacher training.

Arts grants enrich student learning in the creative arts and performing arts, as well as in core subjects such as English. Ongoing programs funded by FMPS include the MHS Visiting Artists Program, the Marblehead Charter School’s Mighty Ukulele Club and Graphic Novel Day at MVMS. This year’s arts grants include new keyboards for Village School music classes and new chairs for Village band and orchestra students. The Visiting Speaker Series, organized by MHS art teacher Karen Lehman, brings in local professionals in the arts who can inspire like-minded students and open their eyes to career opportunities.


“There’s so much talent here in town, and for these successful people to come in and say, ‘This is the path I took; this is what I did,’ is very inspiring to the students,” Lehman explained. Renowned photographer Rick Ashley, who was also the creator of the first AIDS public-service announcement in 1988, and award-winning advertising professional and college professor Jim Fitts were the special guests for one of the sessions.


The Mighty Ukulele Club, funded in 2013, was started by former MCCPS student Matt Pert and is now run by band director T.J. Gansenberg.

“The ukulele is perceived by the kids as a cool instrument, and it’s also the right size,” explained Pert. “And a lot of kids end up graduating from the ukulele to the guitar.” Claire, a club member, added, “I like it because it’s a happy instrument.” MCCPS Principal Nina Cullen-Hamzeh explained, “Music is an important part of MCCPS. We have a school band, honors band, concert band and a jazz band, and the ukulele program is a beautiful extension of what we do. The Friends have been so generous in helping fund innovative programs. Our teachers come up with a seed of an idea, and the FMPS are the sun and rain that help it grow.”

Graphic Novel Day, another arts grant funded by FMPS, was organized by MVMS English teachers Jim Schaffnit and Laura Nash, and librarian Elizabeth Lutwak. Graphic novels give reluctant readers access to literature they might normally avoid, but the genre’s wide range of subject matter and visual styles appeal to every student, explained Shaffnit and Lutwak. The fund covered a presentation by author-artists Andy Fish, Veronica Fish, Britt Snyder and Allison Cowell, new display boards for student-created graphic-novel panels and nearly 100 new graphic novels for the MVMS library. The event featured a presentation from the artists, who encouraged students to open their eyes to what is going on around them. “Great ideas can come from people watching,” Cowell explained. Students had illustrated a scene from a novel they had read, and the creations were displayed in a gallery setting. They also worked with the artists on drawing a panel of a graphic novel.

The Village School music teachers are also excited about how FMPS grants will positively impact their programs. A new grant funded the purchase of Wenger student chairs for the band and orchestra. These chairs — just the right size for fourth- through sixth-graders — enable good posture, which is critical to successful instrument playing, explained Band Director Kate Ferris and Orchestra Director Julie Parsons. “Learning to play a musical instrument is a rewarding challenge, and through the generosity of FMPS, our students are set up for success,” Ferris said. “We have already observed the chairs’ positive impact as our beginning musicians have taken a seat in their first lessons and rehearsals this September!” And music teacher Joe Stoddard is thrilled with the grant for the purchase of new touch-sensitive keyboards (which respond like pianos) to replace the school’s 15-year old keyboards. The new keyboards interface with iPads — funded by an earlier FMPS grant — which allows “access to apps that will help students learn musical notation and learn the keys of the keyboards, plus recording apps like Garage Band,” Stoddard explained. He said that FMPS grants have been “incredibly valuable” to the music program. “My students are still playing the Orff instruments and African drums that FMPS gave us when I first came to Village School 10 years ago,” he said. “We would not have been able to get the number and quality of instruments that FMPS gave us solely through the school budget.”

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Harvest time at Bell School Organic Garden!

The Bell School Organic Garden was originally funded by a 2011 FMPS grant, and it continues to flourish with the help of dedicated teachers and volunteers.

“Our beautiful garden is not only a place where growing, harvesting, and tasting happen, but it’s also a place teachers and students alike meet, read, write, draw, relax, rejuvenate, practice mindfulness, and even do a little yoga! We just had a Summer Garden Pasta lunch on Monday with garlic, tomatoes and basil from our garden,” explains Bell first grade teacher Lee-Anne Fairbanks.

“I’d like to thank FMPS so very much for their support. We could not have gotten the project off the ground when we did without their support.

FMPS Bell garden 4 FMPS Bell garden 3 FMPS Bell garden 6

Welcome Back from FMPS!

Welcome back from the Friends of the Marblehead Public Schools,
“FMPS.” We were thrilled by the goals we reached together as a
community last year—funding over $150,000 in grants to enhance and
enrich the education of our public school students. The year ended on
a high note when supporters of FMPS gathered at the home of Marty and
Bill Willis for the FMPS Summer Soiree and raised over $60,000.

We’re excited to see the grants that were funded for the 2014-15
school year come to fruition in the coming months, and we’ll be
sharing news about these innovative grants that will enhance
curriculum and support professional development. As a sneak peak,
take a look at the picture below that was just sent to us by grateful
Village School music teachers Kate Ferris and Julie Parsons. They’re
showing off new Wenger Student Chairs, made possible by an FMPS grant,
to be used by students in band and orchestra. These chairs–just the
right size for fourth through sixth graders–enable good posture,
which is critical to successful instrument playing.


As always, these grants that benefit all of our children were made
possible by your generous donations. As we announce the kick-off of
our Friends Fall Drive in a few weeks, we look forward to working
together to make the 2014-15 year even more successful. In the
meantime, visit us at, and like us on Here’s to a great year!

A fabulous night with Friends to benefit Marblehead public schools

On Saturday evening the clouds parted, the sun sparkled on the water, and more than 200 community members gathered together at the stunning seaside home of Marty and Bill Willis to raise over $60,000 to fund grants to enhance and enrich the education of Marblehead public school students. The Friends and Flip Flops Summer Soiree was a fun night to celebrate the diverse and important grants of the 2013-14 school year and set the pace for another fantastic year to come. We are truly grateful to all of you who support the mission of the Friends of the Marblehead Public Schools, as are the principals, teachers and students throughout the district. Have a wonderful summer, and we look forward to working with you (and celebrating with you!) again next year.




Thank you so much to our hosts, sponsors and other special people for making the Friends and Flip Flops Summer Soiree possible….

Marty & Bill Willis
for generously opening their home to host the evening

For your generous financial support:
National Grand Bank
Marblehead Bank
Bishop Associates
Business & Tax Consulting

For your donations:
Kappy’s Liquors
All Marblehead
Marblehead Graphics
Marblehead Movers
Flores Mantilla
Seaview Sweets
Becky’s Gourmet

For performing at the event:
Marblehead Jazz Quartet
Drew Faria (drums)
Guillermo Goldschmied (bass)
Ben Thorne (tenor sax)
Paul Wilkens (keyboard)

Winners of the 2014 N. E. Voices competition

For creating our invitation:
Lindy Miller, artwork
Stephanie Scola, designer

For photographing the event:
Sophia Spungin

For serving at the event:
Abby Schalck
Keira Sullivan
Hana Lombardi
Jackie Blair
Molly Riviera
Lily Frontero
Cait Rocco
Hannah Walker
Ashley Bunnell

For sponsoring the event:

Kathy & Darren Beurer
Jenn & Andy Borggaard
Diane & Michael Christian
Carolyn & Phil Coughlin
Kim & Mark Girard
Sarah & Ian Hart
Kate & Jamie Kellogg
Lauren & Dave Kennedy
Lillie & Bart Lombardi
Lissa & C.J. Millett
Mercedes & Mike Piper
Helen & Byron Rizos
Janet & Frank Sweeney
Kathy & Ted Truscott
Laura & Michael Tyrrell

Mary & Tony Bongiorno
Heidi & Anson Clough
Sarah & Chris Jennings

Elena & Stephen Arthur
Jennifer & Peter Brennan
Barb & Dave Campbell
Ellyn & Ray Colwell
Debbie & David Donovan
Ann & Michael Fitzgerald
Marci & Chris Gallup
Joan C. Johnson
John Liptak
Robin & Mark Oderman
Fannie & Ralph Roberto
Lindsay & Tom Ryan
Krysia & Bill Shull
Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Smith
Meryl & Chris Thompson
Amy & David Weist

Michelle & Alan Abrams
Lisa & Chris Adam
Sarah & Alex Arnold
Molly & Tom Bushman
Melissa & Michael Campbell
Stacy & Rick Cohen
Kathryn & Dave Cronin
Patrice Fox & Dan Dilts
Kathy & Jim Doody
Rebecca & Larry Ehrhardt
Caryl & Greg Elder
Anne & Tom Erskine
Nancy & Dick Farrell
Laurie & Jeff Flowers
Brett McCarty & Tim Guyre
Mimi & Peter Hart
Pamela Milligan & Richard Henige
Beezee & Tom Honan
David Jackson
Maggie & Mike Jackson
Judy & Gene Jacobi
Catherine Quinn & Steve Kauffman
Jenni & Alex Leikikh
Linda & Scott Maude
Dawn & Lou Mayle
Ann & Stu McKay
Suzanne & Paul Mitchell
Barbara & Jeffrey Moore
Cathy & Matt Nash
Amye & W.F. Newhall
Christine Nuccio
Holly & Jerry O’Neill
Tracy & Marc Orloff
Kate & John Payne
Kelly Rigby
Marge & Rich Robb
Maura Dartley-Rocco & Todd Rocco
Paige & Hilary Rockett
Amy Drinker & Larry Rosenfeld
Stephanie & John Scola
Anne Seaver
Jane & Charlie Smith
Lydia & Rick Smyers
Andrea & Don Souter
Meredith & Jamie Tedford
Steve Thompson
Nancy & Charlie Thorne
Leanne & Alec Torrie