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 bit.ly/2018-E4E. For additional information, please contact Kate Borgueta (401) 595-8951 or kateborgueta@npef-ri.org.

“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'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.