The Newport Public Education Foundation has announced the 2018 recipients of its annual Noreen Stonor Drexel Education Awards, which recognize individuals and organizations that significantly contribute to the students of Newport’s public schools.

This year’s recipients are:

Friends of Education: Peter and Melinda Gerard. The Gerards recently established the Loti Folk Gaffney Pell Elementary School Music Empowerment Trust, also known as the Pell Inspiration Program, to introduce Pell students to inspired musicians through an annual artists-in-residence program. Using music as the medium, a typical engagement is a multi-day program in which the artists perform in a variety of settings.

Partner in Education: Sail Newport. Since its founding in 1983, Sail Newport has been making significant contributions to the children of Newport. Visits to the educational exploration center at the Volvo Ocean Race’s race village and the implementation of a learn-to-sail program for Pell fourth-graders have greatly enriched the lives of students in the Newport Public Schools.

Unsung Heroes in Education: Mitchell and Jennifer Jackson. The Jacksons have revitalized the Thompson Middle School PTO, which supports programs that are focused on building school spirit and enhancing the education of Thompson students. The Jacksons also served as facilitators in the recent Community Conversation series and are vocal proponents of adequate education funding and equal opportunities for all students.

The awards will be presented during An Evening for Education, the foundation’s annual grants showcase and fundraiser. The benefit event will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, June 1 at the Edward King House, located at 35 King St. in Newport. Tickets are $45/individual and $80/couple and include beer, wine and hors-d’oeuvres prepared by students in the Newport Area Career and Technical Center’s culinary arts academy. Tickets may be purchased online at For additional information, please contact Kate Borgueta (401) 595-8951 or

“This year’s award recipients represent what is great about our public schools and our community,” said Mary Ellen Atkins, president of the foundation. “It is always amazing when our community members and organizations step up to the challenge of providing additional non-traditional learning experiences for our students.”

The Newport Public Education Foundation is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that supports programs that are not otherwise funded by the school budget. Since its founding in 1991, the foundation has awarded more than $300,000 in grants to classroom teachers and community partners to provide innovative educational experiences for students in Newport’s public schools.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).