Fifteen lucky schools throughout the shore area have a chance to upgrade their classrooms thanks to a series of grants awarded by the OceanFirst Foundation.

The Model Classroom Grant Program gave applicants a chance to receive fifteen thousand dollars towards creating a classroom with the latest technology, curriculum tools, and training for teachers.

72 elementary, middle, and high schools applied for their part of the $225,000 in total grant funding available, with winners being awarded on Tuesday in Brielle. Ocean First Bank Chairman, President, and CEO John Garbarino announced the recipients during a ceremony at the Manasquan River Golf Club.

Kathy Durante, Executive Director of the OceanFirst Foundation, says looking at the applications they saw an overwhelming amount of requests for rarely used technologies in the classroom, such as tablets, video conferencing, and smart boards.

”Things they might not be able to afford within the regular school budget but they have a desire to utilize in the classroom.”

She adds they hope school boards will be able to expand and replicate the model classroom in not just the school but in the entire district, whether it’s building a program from scratch or expanding an already existing one.

“You have some districts who have great needs who have very limited technology, and then you have some schools that are already embracing technology who want to take it to an even higher level.”

Durante say the recipients were picked by OceanFirst’s board of directors, and each application underwent a rigorous review process.

“We have a special committee that was formed that really delved into the nature of the request and the specific project, it’s ability to stand up as a model classroom. Is it something that’s going to be groundbreaking that can be taken to other communities or other schools and be replicated.”

Though only fifteen of the seventy two grant applicants got the full fifteen thousand, OceanFirst gave school’s who weren’t selected a $250 dollar gift card to Staples.

Each school created their own plan for judging the impact of the grant, and based on that the OceanFirst Foundation will follow up to evaluate the success of the projects.

“So there’s no specific tool that they’re assessed on, it’s them telling us ‘this is how we see ourselves looking at our success within our school or district.” Say Durante

Awards were made in the following categories:

High Schools-
Central Regional High School, Bayville; Ocean County Vocational Technical School (MATES), Manahawkin; Point Pleasant Beach High School, Point Pleasant Beach; Saint Rose High School, Belmar, and toms River High School South, Toms River

Middle Schools –
Eisenhower Middle School, Freehold Township; Lakehurst Elementary, Lakehurst; Lavallette Elementary, Lavallette; Memorial Middle School and Saint Peter School, Point Pleasant.

Elementary Schools-
Dr. Gerald H Woehr Ementary School, New Egypt; Drum Point Road Elementary, Brick; Emma Havens Young Elementary, Brick; Switlik Elementary School, Jackson, and Whiting Elementary School in Whiting.