The Warren A. Sill Fund Partners with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to Drive Innovative Programming at CMSD Pre-K Classrooms

A Cleveland Metropolitan School District pre-K student participating in the Children’s Museum of Cleveland sponsored classroom visit titled “Planets of the Solar System.” (Copyright: WASF, 2017)

A Cleveland Metropolitan School District pre-K student participating in the Children’s Museum of Cleveland sponsored classroom visit titled “Planets of the Solar System.” (Copyright: WASF, 2017)

CLEVELAND (March 7, 2019) – The Warren A. Sill Fund (WASF), a Cleveland non-profit organization, is partnering with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) to bring engaging science and health programming to four Pre-K classrooms in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) during the 2019/20 school year.


Building upon the existing partnership with the Children’s Museum of Cleveland (CMC), WASF is funding CMNH expert educators to bring programs rooted in science (e.g. “Digging for Dinosaurs”) to 4-year-old students at Euclid Park, William Cullen Bryant, Wilson School, and William Rainey Harper elementary schools. Next year, students we enjoy regular visits from both institutions with a culminating field trip in the spring.


“For the Fund, this is an opportunity to validate our investment model,” Tyler Allchin, Chair, WASF. “As a strategic donor, WASF has the ability to leverage the power of two truly great institutions (CMC & CMNH), focus our collective resources, and begin to address systematic challenges in Cleveland’s early childhood classrooms.”


“Providing access to high-quality, hands-on science education is at the heart of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s mission, and the Museum is thrilled to partner with the Warren A. Sill Fund to provide early childhood programs for CMSD schools,” said Heather Lee, Director of School and Family Learning


“The Warren A. Sill Fund’s early childhood initiative adds real value to our classrooms,” said Nicole Vitale, Executive Director of Early Childhood Education, CMSD. “Our teachers love working with the Children’s Museum and we look forward to the Natural History Museum bringing their tremendous resources to students.”


This program is driven by strong empirical data that supports educational investment in children during their infancy – 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed before the age of five, and every dollar invested in early childhood education returns $17 in economic benefits. Upcoming CMC classroom visits will happen on Thurs., Mar. 7 (William Cullen Bryant); Fri., Mar. 8 (Wilson School); and Mon., April 8 (Wilson School). Media encouraged with notice.


About the WASF Early Childhood Education Program – CMSD explainer video

Launched in 2016, in partnership with content provider the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, the WASF early childhood program brings expert educators from Cleveland institutions to underserved PreK classrooms. Entering its fourth year, the program will reach nearly 120 preschoolers, each receiving eight total science, arts, and health related programs, including field trips. By funding programming from Cleveland’s strong cultural and academic institutions, WASF intends to help transform every CMSD PreK classroom into a center of excellence.


About The Warren A. Sill Fund

Established in 2013 after the passing of Clevelander Warren Sill, WASF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovative early childhood education programming for underserved students in Greater Cleveland. WASF is working to build a new philanthropic investment model where funders and institutions work together to empower students with quality education. To date, WASF has provided nearly $20,000 in scholarships and programming. The WASF Board of Directors is comprised of Cleveland young professionals, including friends of Warren who passed away while chasing him dream of filming wildlife in British Columbia.



Cassie Neiden, Director, Media Lead: 440-949-9014;

Tyler Allchin, Chair: 216-983-9484;

6 Questions with the Children’s Museum of Cleveland’s Kelsey Tarase

CMC’s Director of Education shares the curriculum details of the WASF/CMSD/CMC partnership, and why STEM education—especially at the pre-K level—is so important.


Thanks to the generous support of Warren A. Sill Fund (WASF) donors, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and the Children’s Museum of Cleveland (CMC)—two Cleveland classrooms (Euclid Park Elementary and William Cullen Bryant) are each receiving five, hands-on STEM-based courses taught by CMC educators throughout the 2017-2018 school year.

Through this one-of-its-kind partnership, 4-year-olds in underserved areas of the city’s east side are enjoying hands-on learning experiences, inspiring them to dream bigger and sparking their interest in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Here, Kelsey Tarese, the museum’s Director of Education, explains how the program works and the reasons why introducing STEM courses in early childhood can have a profound effect on development.


1. What kind of work do you do at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland?

As many who work in non-profit know, my current role entails a bit of everything including: interacting with museum guest on the floor, running the IT for our front-desk sales system, training staff on developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), and designing and leading most outreach. I work with CMSD and WASF to coordinate the logistics of each outreach pogrom but also design and lead the programs in a way that meets DAP and also works with each individual teacher’s classroom curriculum.


2. Why is STEM-education not only important for any grade level, but especially during pre-K instruction? 

The National Science Foundation suggests that adults must be familiar with basic science concepts for employment today. Unfortunately, African-American, Latino/a, and low-income European-American students lag behind in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science tests in the fourth, eighth and twelfth grades. Multiple studies conclude that the key to combating this is to engage students in STEM fields as early as possible. In low income areas, the issue is further exacerbated by lack of funding for adequate STEM resources. Many teachers fall back on the rote-memory style of education to comply with state standardized test requirements, rather than allow children to engage in meaningful learning activities.

Consequently, the pedagogy of poverty is a key factor in the decline of STEM interest within low-income populations. Many studies have shown that a way to combat low test scores and apathy for STEM is to integrate hands-on activities into the curriculum as early as possible. 


3: What types of courses/workshops do you teach to pre-K students at Euclid Park and William Cullen Bryant Elementary? 

At Euclid Park and William Cullen Bryant Elementary, The Children’s Museum leads five different STEM based lessons with students. The topics for these lessons are chosen based on national and CMSD standards and curriculum guides, and what I as an educator at the museum knows will best interest and serve the students.

The lessons cover a variety of topics, but have a strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. For example, in our “Young Architects” outreach students are designing blueprints and building their own model homes; a lesson with a clear emphasis on math and engineering. In our “Race into Space” program students are learning about the Big Bang, space travel, and designing their own planets; these topics are heavily influenced by science and technology standards.

As an educator, I could list all the content standards the children are meeting in our five lessons, but if you ask the kids what they are doing it is, having fun. And I believe that is the most important thing we do in our lessons, have fun.


4: What do you find are the biggest student takeaways from these CMC visits? 

I believe the biggest take away for the students are numerous, but the two I am most proud of are:

1) The belief that learning can be fun. CMC strives to create programming that engages children with hands-on activities, creative art projects, and physical movement to incorporate full-body learning this is fully engaging and child led.

2) That each child gets to take home a project. Having this take-home component is vital because it not only gives children a tactile reminder of the lesson but also allows them to show their work to friends and family. For many students this may be one of the only times they are able to keep a project, which also helps boost their self-esteem for STEM.


5: As an educator, what do these enrichment opportunities at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District mean to you? 

As an educator I know the pressure teachers are under to stay within budget, teach lessons aligned to government approved standards, try to work with limited or no resources, and juggle the 100 other daily tasks they have while still doing what is best for each and every one of their students. Having Warren A. Sill Fund help pre-K students and teachers, at two wonderful Cleveland Metropolitan School District [schools], with The Children’s Museum of Cleveland enables educators to give their students a developmentally appropriate lesson that is common-core aligned, cost effective and fun for their students—helping these very deserving educators and their students receive the type of education and support they deserve.

I believe there is no better thing we can do as a society that spend more time, money and effort engaging with our youngest learners and helping them to succeed.


6: How do you see the future of STEM programming evolving and expanding at the younger end of the grade-school spectrum? 

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) states “learning science and engineering practices in the early years can foster children’s curiosity and enjoyment in exploring the world around them and lay the foundation for a progression of science learning in K–12 settings and throughout their entire lives.” I think the world is beginning to really turn toward the fact, that in order for us to succeed in middle school, high school and beyond, we need to focus on our learning from the very beginning.

Cleveland itself in the past few years has been laying the groundwork and starting a Northeast Ohio STEM Ecosystem; The NeoSTEM Ecosystem has been very inclusive with early learning educators, knowing that our youngest learners are our future learners and leaders, and that for a STEM education to be effective we need to start early. I think there are people across the Nation, in the NeoSTEM Ecosystem, at Warren A. Sill Fund, at CMC and CMSD that clearly recognize the young children are a critical population and need to be engaged in STEM concepts.

Clear progress is being made but there is still an uphill battle to be fought. However, I do believe we will get there, it is too important to fail.

Spring Term with WASF Scholarship Recipient Ricky Lovell

Our 2017-2018 Kent State Student Academic Scholarship recipient, Ricky Lovell, had a very successful – and busy! – fall term in northeast Ohio. Ricky, a senior in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services’ integrated social studies education program, completed his teaching practicum at Nordonia High School, focusing on history, civics and American government courses. In October he attend a WASF-funded enrichment session at Euclid Park Elementary, engaging students during an interactive lesson focused on different adaptations animals have to have to be successful in their environments. 


The highlight of Ricky’s senior year, and perhaps his entire Kent State experience, is currently unfolding across the Atlantic Ocean. On Jan. 11, with the help of the WASF, Ricky journeyed to the Netherlands to begin his student teaching placement which lasts until early May. Ricky has been placed at t'Atrium school in the Netherlands where he is teaching economics and social studies, which Ricky says is “very dynamic as it is based on Dutch society.”

“This [class] provides a great platform to engage my students in cross cultural dialogue about different cultural norms,” Ricky says. “As the Netherlands has a large welfare state compared to the United States, it is very interesting to hear their world views and how they view the U.S. from an outside perspective.” Students at t'Atrium are exposed to a global perspective in the classroom, and all students partake in a week-long exchange program with schools in India and China to better understand eastern cultures. 


The teaching environment has also provided Ricky with different perspectives. “I have been very intrigued with how informal education is in the Netherlands as opposed to the U.S. Teachers typically wear jeans and a T-shirt to school and their relationships with students are much more like that of peer-mentor,” Ricky says.

When not in the classroom, Ricky is taking full advantage of his time in Europe. Having recently returned from a five-day stay in Barcelona, he intends to visit Paris, Berlin, Rome, Athens, Ireland and the UK before May. Ricky says “I am very eager to visit Athens and Rome as they are both major civilizations that social studies classes spend a lot of time on, yet we fail to discuss the modern version of these cities. I think it will be very enlightening to compare the modern city to the past golden ages.”

The Warren A. Sill Fund is proud to support adventurers like Ricky in and out of the classroom.

WASF Selects 2017-2018 Kent State University Student Scholarship Recipient

The Warren A. Sill Fund is excited to announce the recipient of its 2017-2018 Kent State Student Academic Scholarship, Ricky Lovell. Ricky is entering his senior year at Kent State in the integrated social studies education program.

Ricky has been an engaging presence on campus, serving on Kent Interhall Council for four years and the past two as its director of student relations. He has also helped to refresh the Education, Health, and Human Services learning community to better connect first-year students to the university and their academic programs.


Ricky spent his summer as the middle school village leader at YMCA Camp Surf in San Diego, California where he worked with a diverse group of middle school youths and engaged with peers from across the country and around the globe.

This fall Ricky will complete his remaining professional development courses, as well as his teaching practicum at a local secondary school. In the spring, with the help of WASF, Ricky will travel to Europe and complete his final semester of student teaching overseas, incorporating a truly global perspective into his development as an educator.


While not in the classroom, Ricky reads as much as possible. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a personal favorite. He draws inspiration from Atticus Finch and the character’s willingness to stand up for what he believes is right with grace and dignity, even when faced with great animosity from his peers. A northeast Ohio native, Ricky enjoys taking in events around Cleveland as well as cheering on the City’s sports teams.

The Warren A. Sill Fund welcomes Ricky to the family!



7 Reasons NOT to Miss Spring Out of Hibernation 2017

Don’t stay in this April Fool’s Day. Come have some fun to help Cleveland’s pre-K students!  

Who wouldn’t want to spend a Saturday night with friends, food, drinks, art – and arcade games?! Have an awesome evening with extra-fun surprises, all while sponsoring STEM education for pre-Kindergardeners in our community – at Warren A. Sill Fund’s 4th annual Spring Out of Hibernation event on April 1 at 78th Street Studios (Gordon Square Arts District).


Keep your quarters in your pocket – just have a blast challenging your high score with a selection of Superelectric Pinball Parlor’s favorite pinball machines specially delivered for the fun of April Fool’s Day. Perhaps you’re not a pinball wizard, and just want to come as a spectator – watch away! Our Superelectric friends will be in attendance to show you how it’s done.

2. Cleveland food & beer – need we say more?

On the “Spring Out” beer menu this year will be Heavy Seas, Sibling Revelry and Dogfish Head – who all made generous donations so you can drink as much hoppy goodness as your bleeding-CLE heart desires. (Don’t worry, wine-os: we’ve got you covered, too!) Plus! A sweet bonus: Top off your happy belly with a bit of Mitchell’s Ice Cream.  

3. 216 personalities

You won’t need to feel shy busting a move with Cleveland’s favorite local DJ – FreshProduce – known for always bringing “engaging, energetic, accessible hip hop” sets to their performances, according to their happy clients on Facebook.

Cueing them up will be News5’s Meg Shaw, our Spring Out of Hibernation host for the 2nd year running. 

4. Heart-warming reminders

Meet and greet a handful of our Kent State University scholarship recipients, who’ll catch you up on the amazing things they’ve been up to this past year.

Plus, you can get acquainted with the 4-year-olds who your ticket is also supporting. We’ve interviewed them all and shared their loves, hopes and dreams with you via fun-fact posters displayed throughout the event space. These are sure to give you #ALLthefeels.

((P.S. For every 5 tickets sold, another Cleveland Metropolitan School District classroom will have the opportunity to receive these invaluable benefits of a Children’s Museum of Cleveland visit. Click here to learn more about our cause.))

5. Art appreciation

You may already be familiar with 78th Street Studios and its “Third Friday”: a monthly event where community members can drop by the former American Greetings headquarters-turned-artsy-studio-space to view the creations of our city’s artists. We figured we couldn’t pick a better venue to have the Children’s Museum of Cleveland (CMC) give a little crafty preview of what they’ve been working on with students at Euclid Park Elementary this past year. Before you leave, don’t forget to snap some selfies with your besties at RGI Creative’s photobooth, offered for free just for the evening!  

6. Extras (prizes!!)

Throw your raffle tickets in the ring for some FANTASTIC prizes this year, including a YETI cooler, Cleveland Indians tickets, and an Arhaus furniture piece (to name a few!). Whether you’d like to head to see the Cleveland Orchestra play, get outta dodge to Pittsburgh for the weekend, or pick up some fashionable items – like a Banyan Tree leather bag or a Harness Cycle apparel gift card – there’s truly something for everyone!

7. You’ll be a hop-skip away from…

… the best nightlife Gordon Square has to offer after Spring Out of Hibernation concludes. While our past attendees can vouch for our after-party hits (stay tuned to see where we’ll be hosting this year!), 78th Street Studios is a short Uber ride away from some post-event boozy spots like XYZ the Tavern, Luxe Kitchen & Lounge, Happy Dog – and more!

Spring Out of Hibernation tickets are just $40! ($45 at the door) Bringing your whole crew? We offer discounts for group packages. Purchase here!