LHRIC Presents Three Pioneer Awards
May 21, 2010
A team-driven school district, a trailblazing technology director, and a forward-looking math teacher were among the award recipients at the LHRIC's 17th Annual Pioneer Awards.
The award ceremony, which was held at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, is intended to recognize teachers and administrators who are innovative users of technology.
Sue Tomko, director of technology for the North Rockland School District, credited district leaders for giving her the go-ahead to develop a smart phone initiative at Haverstraw Middle School. The project, which is targeted toward fifth-graders, has been enthusiastically accepted by students and their parents, and was recently highlighted on CNN.
The segment highlighted the notion that handheld technology should most definitely be in the hands of students and used for meaningful, constructive educational activities.
Rather than giving herself complete credit for the success of the project, Ms. Tomko said it was more of a team effort and a mindset that had developed throughout the district. She thanked the three middle school teachers who had "championed the project from day one."
"I accept this award with great honor and dedicate it to all of our students who are benefiting from our innovative efforts," said Ms. Tomko.
Upon accepting his award, George Engel expressed gratitude to his students for embracing the use of cell phones and iPod Touches as part of their classroom learning. Mr. Engel has been running a pilot program at Clarkstown South High School since last September. In his class, students use their cell phones for instant feedback, evidence collection, research, and reflection.
Mr. Engel views himself as a partner in the classroom as opposed to a teacher. His teaching philosophy is all about engaging students and treating them as equals. That attitude seems to have paid off. Mr. Engel said his students are more engaged, are better able to communicate their concerns with him, and a whole new mindset of self-reflection and growth has emerged. "They have stuck with me throughout this project and have worked hard and done an amazing job," said Mr. Engel. "They're the true winners, not me."
The Pleasantville School District's Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Mary Fox-Alter said she was humbled to receive the award on behalf of the district, which was recognized for its successful K-12 Assistive Technology initiative.
Both Ms. Fox-Alter and Dr. Caroyn McGuffog were responsible for spearheading the program, which provides quality, state-of-the-art AT services for its qualified special needs population. "We're certainly not perfect in Pleasantville, but I think we garner the support of all our constituents to try to get it right," said Ms. Fox-Alter.
The program provides students with the necessary tools to access the district's rich K-12 classroom curriculum, and also allows them to compete with academic rigor while still meeting the standards set by the state.
In closing, RIC Director Jim O'Brien congratulated all of the recipients, but added that the true winners were the students. "They reap the benefits from all of this," he said.