WEDF Announces Spring 2022 Mini-Grant Recipients

A group of students work in a garden

In Spring 2022, the Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc. funded more than $9,500 in mini-grants for educators in the Worcester Public Schools.

The grants funded extraordinary projects to enhance and enrich teaching and learning in WEDF’s areas of focus: Arts and Culture, College and Career Readiness, Health and Wellness, and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. In addition, some funds were available specifically for gardening and landscaping projects.

The grants were funded through WEDF’s Distinguished Alumni & Friends of the Worcester Public Schools event, the Office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., individual donations, and the general funds of the WEDF.

Congratulations to all of the grant recipients, and a huge thank you to our grant review committee!

2022 Mini-Grant Award Recipients

Jennifer Adams • La Familia Dual Language School • Math Mundo
Scott Bodamer • Claremont Academy • Tomatosphere
Jessie Carleton • Woodland Academy • Sculpture Manipulatives for Art Room
Chris Comeaux • North High School • Molding System & Materials
Sarah Cramer • Claremont Academy • Roller Coaster Physics: Riding with Acceleration and Gravitational Forces
Brianna Embury • Goddard School of Science & Technology • Classroom Keyboard Pianos
Julie Feeney • Burncoat Middle School • Una Celebración: Celebrating Latinx Culture Through Dance
Judy Freedman • WPS Transition Program/New Citizen’s Center – Young Adult • Baseball in Education
Emily Galante • Burncoat Street Preparatory Academy • Burncoat Prep Community Care
Daniel Gay • New Citizen’s Center – Young Adult • One World Music Ensemble
Jason Harthan • Forest Grove Middle School • Fabricating Prosthetic Hands for Children in Need
Gail Holland-Default • Worcester Technical High School • Wild Voices
Steven Johnson • North High School • North High School ESports Team
Alana Juneau • Worcester Arts Magnet School • Presenting Our Creativity
Kim Marshall • Wawecus Road School/West Tatnuck School • Packing Peanuts Palooza
Brian McCullock • South High Community School • Travel to MICCA Concert Festival
Cheryl Perron • Lake View School • Starting Fresh at Lake View
Tracy Pomeroy • Lincoln Street School • Flourish With Flowers
Sarah Sanders • Burncoat Middle School • Worcester 300
Megan Schreiber • Worcester East Middle School • Theatrical Makeup
Marissa Skeates • Worcester Arts Magnet School • Watch Our Garden Grow!
Allissa Szymcik • Roosevelt School • Music is Why Our Hearts Have Beats
Kristin Tupper • Jacob Hiatt Magnet School • STEAM Ahead for Learning

WPS Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to be Held on May 13, 2022

Icon of an athlete with a large star behind them; Worcester Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame; May 13, 2022; Union Station

The Worcester Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 13, 2022.  The ceremony will be held at Worcester Union Station.  A reception at 5:00 p.m. will be followed by dinner at 6:00 p.m.

The WPS Athletic Hall of Fame selects and honors deserving athletes, coaches, teams, and other outstanding contributors to athletic programs of the Worcester Public Schools.

Successful candidates have brought honor to the Worcester Public Schools through their outstanding participation in the athletic program and have distinguish themselves in their organizations and community through exceptional achievements and/or service. Honorees serve as extraordinary role models of character, courage, leadership and citizenship.


Robert Bailey, Burncoat High School
Steven Brunelle – Doherty Memorial High School
Lenny Carlson – North High School
Richard Eid – Classical High School
Robert Goodney – Worcester Boys Trade School
Steven Hennigan – South High School
John Mcgrath – North High School
Michelle Legacy Montville – Doherty Memorial High School
Michael Lynch – South High School
Tijean Pluverge – Doherty Memorial High School
Matthew Powers – Burncoat High School
Jewel White – Doherty Memorial High School

Unlike surrounding towns, the Worcester Public Schools charges no athletic fees to ensure equal access for all students. WPS Athletics serves 1,500-1,700 students on 156 teams playing 30 sports. Playing sports builds key life skills including teamwork, confidence, and strategies for health and wellness. Our athletes need to be safe on the field and look their best which means using up-to-date equipment and wearing high-quality uniforms. You can support our sports by making a donation through WEDF:

WEDF Welcomes New Board Members

Worcester Educational Development Foundation is pleased to announce four new additions to our Board of Directors.  See a full board list here.

Jermoh Kamara, MPH, CHES

Photo of Jermoh Kamara

Jermoh Kamara is a Worcester Public Schools graduate having attended Canterbury Street School, Sullivan Middle, and South High where she was a member of the National Honor Society and Vice President of the Class of 2011.

Today she is a public health professional, working as the Director of Wellness and Health Equity at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts, with 10 years of experience in international and national, and community health. She earned her BS in Health Policy and Management & BA in Community Health from Providence College, Master’s in Public Health from New York Medical College and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).  She has taught courses at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Clark University.

Jermoh was also recently elected and serves as a member on the Worcester School Committee in 2021, the first African born immigrant to be elected. She is a second year volunteer board member of the Worcester League of Women Voters and serves on the leadership of the Massachusetts Organization of African Descendants (MOAD).

Stacey Luster, J.D.

Photo of Stacey Luster

Stacey Luster is a 3rd generation Worcesterite, who secured her place in Worcester’s history by becoming the only African-American woman to be elected to the Worcester City Council. Stacey is a proud graduate of South High who went on to graduate from St. John’s University in New York, Boston University School of Law and is admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Stacey has given back to the community in many volunteer capacities, including responding to community needs by becoming the Co-Founder of Black Families Together and the Black Excellence Academy. Stacey has also served on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, the Worcester Business Development Corporation, YWCA of Central Massachusetts, the Worcester Art Museum, Fallon Community Health Plan, Greater Worcester Community Foundation and Board of Trustees Chairperson for Quinsigamond Community College. Presently, Stacey is serving as a Board Member of Ascentria Care Alliance, Director of Country Bank and the President of the Board of Trustees for Mechanics Hall.

Stacey is a consummate public servant, who has dedicated her professional life to public education, through leadership positions at the executive level of the Worcester Public Schools, Quinsigamond Community College and currently in her role as General Counsel/Assistant to the President at Worcester State University. 

Photo of Sue Popinchalk

Sue Popinchalk  

Sue is originally from PA and graduated with a BS in Ceramic Engineering from Penn State University. She was recruited by the Abrasives Division (Norton) of Saint-Gobain after college and has recently taken a new position with the CertainTeed Roofing Division as their World Class Manufacturing/Operational Excellence Champion. 

Her family lives in Worcester and she has 2 daughters who have attended Worcester public schools. Kate graduated from South High in 2021 and is currently a freshman at Northeastern and Lauren is a junior in Burncoat’s Hanover Insurance Academy of the Arts. Her husband Seth is the manager of the advanced support group of the Mathworks.

Matthew Wally

Photo of Matthew Wally

Matthew Wally is currently employed by UniBank for Savings as Vice President, Audit/ CRA/ Fair Lending. Mr. Wally is Vice president of the Quinsigamond Community College Foundation, a member of the Finance Committee of the Regional Environmental Council, a member of the Audit Committee for RCAP Solutions, a Trustee Associate for the Nativity School of Worcester, and a member of the Worcester Retirement Board.

Mr. Wally, a former City Councilor for the city of Worcester, has also served as a Director for the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Matthew 25, and Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester. He is also involved in the Worcester Tree Initiative, the Endangered Structure Committee for Preservation Worcester, and the the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council. 

Mr.Wally has received awards for his outstanding leadership from the Central MA Housing Alliance, the Worcester Community Action Council and Matthew 25. Mr. Wally is a graduate Burncoat High School and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Community Development & Planning from Clark University.  He is married to Katie Bagdis Wally, an attorney with Mountain Dearborn and together they have a son named Conor and a daughter named Rose.

Nominations Open for the 2022 Distinguished Alumni of the Worcester Public Schools Awards!

The Worcester Educational Development Foundation is pleased to announce that nominations are now open for the annual Distinguished Alumni of the Worcester Public Schools awards! The program was established in 2011 by WEDF to honor and recognize alumni of Worcester Public Schools who:

  • Have made exemplary contributions to their professional fields, the Worcester community, Worcester Public Schools and/or the betterment of society
  • Serve as outstanding role models for current Worcester Public Schools students
  • Have achieved outstanding success in academics, the arts, community service, business, humanitarian efforts, research and various other fields

This year’s ceremony is scheduled for October 27, 2022 at a banquet held to honor the awardees at the College of the Holy Cross. 

If you know of any alumni who meet the above criteria, we strongly encourage you to submit their names to the Foundation. Online and printable nomination forms are available below.

In addition to filling out the basic information about the alumnus, be sure to include a one-page narrative describing your nominee’s accomplishments and why you’re nominating them. Supplementary documents such as newspaper articles about their accomplishments and resumes are also helpful in the review process. If you know of an exemplary candidate, but don’t have time to compile a full nomination, feel free to email your idea to

Further instructions are available on the nomination form. Learn more about the event here.

We look forward to seeing this year’s nominees, and selecting the next class of Distinguished Alumni! Be sure to spread the word!

Connected Scholars Campaign Reaches Half-Way Mark

Graphic: Words read "Connected Scholars: Computer Scholarships for WPS graduating seniors". Three students with new computers stand with their guidance counselor. The words "We're half-way to our goal" appear above a battery icon with two of four bars full.

Connected Scholars, a WEDF initiative designed to provide computer scholarships for students in the Worcester Public Schools, is half-way to its goal for the 2021/2022 school year. $40,000 has been raised thus far, which will equip 50 students with new laptops for the next phase of their education. Working closely with guidance counselors in the city’s high schools, WEDF ultimately hopes to raise $80,000 and provide 100 students who have shown a strong work ethic and positive attitude in high school.

WEDF aims to provide equal access to educational resources for all students, and a computer is now essential in all areas of schooling. WEDF is seeking support from foundations, corporations, organizations, and individuals who are willing and interested in helping students who are working hard to make their dreams come true. A full computer scholarship is $ 800, but any amount makes a difference! Leadership support has come from the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, the Hoche-Scofield Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, and Berkshire Bank.

Mini Grants for Teachers Available Spring 2022

Text reads "Now accepting applications for Spring 2022 Mini Grants" next to an image showing a smiling teacher and engaged students.

Made possible by the Distinguished Alumni & Friends of the Worcester Public Schools event, the Office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., individual donations, and the general funds of the WEDF

The Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc. (WEDF), founded to improve educational opportunities for the students and teachers in the Worcester Public Schools, announces the availability of funds for small grants of up to $500 each.


Instructional staff members in the district may apply for a grant of up to $ 500 to fund extraordinary projects for students in WEDF’s areas of focus. Projects that connect WPS alumni with classrooms are encouraged. WEDF’s four focus areas are:

  • Arts and Culture.
  • College and Career Readiness.
  • Health and Wellness.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
    • Gardening Grant Opportunity: In Spring 2022, some funds are available specifically for gardening and landscaping projects

Fund Use

Funds may be used for instructional and non-instructional materials, transportation and fees for field trips or competitions (preference for field trips within Worcester/Worcester County), and consultants. Funds may not be used for stipends or salary for WPS personnel.

Gardening or landscaping grant funds may be used only for plants and plant materials (mulch, soil, seeds).


An application (no more than two pages) is required and must be signed or approved via email by the building principal or immediate supervisor.  The application must clearly state:

  • how the learning need connects to one of WEDF’s focal areas.
  • how that need will be met through the grant’s activities.
  • why these activities are special, unique and enjoyable.
  • how the program will be evaluated (i.e., how success will be determined).

A line-item budget must be included. Attachments are not allowed.


Awards will be determined by a broad-based review committee based on the scoring rubric that is posted here.

Requests may be made at any time before May 1, 2022. Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis while funds last. Notification of status of award will be made within two weeks of submission. Projects must be completed by May 31, 2022.

Family Establishes Nina and Miriam Barber Scholarship

Nina and Miriam Barber were sisters who graduated from North High School, Nina in the class of 1928 and Miriam in the class of 1929. Raised by their mother in a single-parent home, they were encouraged by their great aunt to go on to college. Both graduated from Middlebury College and became teachers of world languages. 

In January 2022, Nina’s daughter, Sally Cummings, established the Nina and Miriam Barber Scholarship with preference for a North High School female student who has had a solid B grade average and an economic need for financial assistance. The family of Nina and Miriam prefers that an aspiring language teacher is chosen. The student will be selected by the principal and/or guidance counselor.

This generous legacy gift is an example of how a family can honor loved ones of the past and, at the same time, invest in the future of our most precious resource, the students who will be the leaders of tomorrow. 

Learn more about the Barber sisters through these slides provided by the family.

Slide 1: The Barber sisters, Nina (left) and Miriam (right), as toddlers.
Slide 2: Nina's class picture from 1918. An arrow and zoom box highlight Nina. Below, a class picture, perhaps from 1918. An arrow and zoom box highlight Miriam.
Slide 3: A portrait of Nina and Miriam from 1926. Nina is on the left and Miriam is on the right.
Slide 4: A page from Nina's 1928 North High yearbook - an excerpt reads "Who has ever seen Nina without her unruffled, calm poise? We are proud of her; we have reason to be. It is she we think of when we see an A." Below, a page from Miriam's 1929 North High yearbook - an excerpt reads "Another fair Northite is Miriam Barber. She came to North from Sever Street Prep. Miriam's shy, quiet ways, and her winning smile have gained the friendship of all of us. We're sure she uses "Palmolive." Middlebury, Vermont is her future Alma Matter. "
Slide 5: Grandaunt Myrtle Webber, Miriam, and Nina in 1929. Aunt Myrtie was a daughter of Civil War veteran George Watkins Webber. Aunt Myrtie never married, and worked as private secretary to the President of the local Normal School. She herself had not possessed the means to attend college, but it was she, more than anyone else, who inspired - and financially enabled - her grandnieces to attend Middlebury.
Slide 6: Nina while studying at Middlebury. After Middlebury, she taught French in two high schools in Vermont, raised two children and continued to work as a substitute teacher and tutor, and then worked for ten years as a social worker in child and family services for the State of Vermont.
Slide 7: Miriam while teaching French at Northfield School for Girls in MA in the late 1930s. She soon went on to teach at  Cobleskil, NY as well as (after a 17-year hiatus to raise her children) Cooperstown, Springfield/Cherry Valley, and Ithaca High Schools, all in NY.
Slide 8: Photos of Nina and Miriam with their families. Sally, Nina, Allen, and Preston in 1954 or 1955 and Dale, Mim, Faye, and Randy in 1956.
Slide 9: Two photos. Top - A photo of Nina at her 35th Middlebury reunion. Bottom - a photo of Miriam at her 50th Middlebury reunion in 1983.

WEDF Announces Honorees for 10th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni & Friends of the Worcester Public Schools Awards

The Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc. (WEDF) is proud to announce the honorees for the 2021 Distinguished Alumni and Friends of the Worcester Public Schools Awards event. This year’s honorees are:

Sydney Taylor Brown – Educator/Social Services Leader (posthumous)
Enmanuel “Manny” Familia – Public Safety Hero (posthumous)
John Goldsberry, M.D. – Physician
Mary Beth Bolduc Heffernan – Artist/Professor of Art
Dmitry Kustanovich – Performing Artist
Barry Levenson – Lawyer/Museum Founder & Curator
Stacey Luster – Education Professional/Lawyer
Timothy MacDonald – Health & Wellness Manager
Walter Shea – Business Leader/Community Activist

The College of the Holy Cross is the recipient of the “Friend of the Worcester Public Schools” Award.

UniBank will be the Valedictorian sponsor of the event, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. UniBank’s mission is to contribute to the overall economic health of the community in Central Massachusetts by serving financial needs with a full range of banking services as well as giving back through charitable giving and employee volunteerism. 

Other sponsors and advertisers to date include Lamoureux Pagano Associates | Architects, Tony Economou: RE/MAX Advantage 1, the Educational Association of Worcester, Clark University, the Major Taylor Association, Guild of St. Agnes, and Millbury Credit Union.

WEDF was established in 2005 for the sole purpose of supporting the Worcester Public Schools.

The banquet is scheduled for October 28 at the College of the Holy Cross. Dinner tickets are $75.

What’s Next for Recent Worcester Grads?

As we prepare to kick off the 2021-2022 school year, we’re still celebrating our recent graduating Worcester Public Schools class of 2021! 

So many Worcester alumni go on to do amazing things in their lives and careers. To celebrate the post-secondary pursuits of our WPS grads, we wanted to share this amazing list.

Worcester Public Schools graduates will be attending more than 140 different institutions in 26 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada and Scotland. Though many of these graduates are traveling far, almost 500 will stay here in the city to pursue their post-secondary education.

Please join us in congratulating our recent graduates on their accomplishments and wishing them the best of luck in everything to come their way!

Below are the schools our alumni are attending.

American International College

American Musical and Dramatic Academy

Anna Maria College

Assumption College

Bay Path University

Bentley University

Berklee College of Music

Boston College

Brandeis University

Bridgewater State University

Brown University

Bryant University

Bryn Mawr College

Clark University

College of the Holy Cross

Columbia College Chicago

Columbus State Community College

Connecticut School of Broadcasting

Cornell University

Culinary Institute of America

Curry College

Dean College

Drew University

Eastern Nazarene College

Elms College (College of our Lady of the Elms)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

Emerson College

Endicott College

Fitchburg State University

Flagler College-St Augustine

Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Institute of Technology

Fordham University

Framingham State University

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

Georgia State University

Harvard University

Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

Howard University

Husson University

International Bible College

Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University)

Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte

Johnson & Wales University-Providence

Keene State College

Lafayette College

Lasell University

Lesley University

Lincoln Technical Institute – Lowell

Lincoln Technical Institute-Lincoln

Loyola Marymount University

Macalester College

Marine Corps Institute

Massachusetts Bay Community College

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Massachusetts Maritime Academy

McGill University

Merrimack College

Middlesex Community College

Mount Wachusett Community College

National Fashion & Beauty College

NE Dental Academy

New York University

Nichols College

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Northeastern University

Northern Maine Community College

Norwich University

Ohio Technical College

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

Penn Foster Career School

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Pepperdine University

Porter and Chester Institute

Princeton University

Providence College

Quinsigamond Community College

Regis College

Ringling College of Art and Design

Rob Roy Academy-Worcester

Rochester Institute of Technology

Roger Williams University

Sacred Heart University

Saint Anselm College

Salem State University

Simmons University

Smith College

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern State Community College

Suffolk University

SUNY College at Brockport

SUNY Cortland

SUNY Oneonta

Syracuse University

Temple University

The College of Saint Rose

The New School

The University of Arizona

The University of Tampa

TONI&GUY Hairdressing Academy

Universal Technical Institute of Massachusetts Inc

Universal Technical Institute of Pennsylvania Inc

University of Aberdeen

University of Bridgeport

University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College

University of Connecticut

University of Dayton

University of Delaware

University of Dubuque

University of Maine

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

University of Massachusetts-Boston

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

University of Miami

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

University of New Haven

University of Pikeville

University of Rhode Island

University of Rochester

University of Southern California

University of Toledo

University of Vermont

Valencia College

Wellesley College

Wentworth Institute of Technology

Wesleyan University

West Virginia University

Western New England University

Westfield State University

Westover Job Corps

Wheaton College

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester State University

Xavier University of Louisiana

Yale University

Yeshiva University

Ryan P. Quinn Memorial Award and Mary Murphy Spirit Award Recipients Announced

The Board of Directors of the Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc. (WEDF), is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2021 Ryan P. Quinn Memorial Award is Talya Horton, a recent graduate of Burncoat High School and an accomplished student-athlete. Maggie McCarthy is the recipient of the Mary Murphy Spirit Award and is also a member of the class of 2021 and a gifted athlete.

Ryan P. Quinn, Burncoat High School class of 1996, was a star soccer player and golfer, earning Varsity Letters in both sports. Sadly, Ryan passed away in June of 2014. In memory of Ryan, the Quinn Family partnered with the WEDF in 2016, to establish the Ryan P. Quinn Memorial Award for graduating Varsity Athletes of Burncoat High School. After the passing of Ryan’s aunt, Mary Murphy, a Spirit Award in her memory was added. The students were recognized at the Ryan Quinn Memorial Golf Tournament on July 12, 2021. The presenting sponsor of the event was Tito’s Vodka.

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