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Fourteen City School District of New Rochelle teachers recently participated in the Westchester STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador Program, giving them beneficial new skills they can pass on to their students.

The program is part of a New York State Education Department grant called Smart Start, a program geared toward professional development of teachers in kindergarten through grade eight. The program seeks to bolster knowledge and expertise of New York State Computer Science and Digital Fluency Learning Standards launched in late 2020.

The district was one of 17 applicants to share in $6 million worth of funding for this initiative. The New Rochelle teachers who took part were:

  • Davis Elementary School: David Bournas-Ney, Tara DeRubeis, Laura Sarago
  • Isaac E. Young Middle School: Melissa Thomas, Scott Misner
  • Jefferson Elementary School: Lucia Brea, Aimee Ferguson
  • Trinity Elementary School: Rachel Collens, Denise Larkin, Antenisca Malaj, Adrienne Quinn, Meera Rajani, Maria Torres
  • Daniel Webster Elementary School: Kathleen Coyne

Misner said the program offered numerous opportunities to enhance his knowledge of STEM subject matter and provide his students with more enriching experiences.

“The program introduced me to New York State’s Culturally Responsive Sustaining Standards and taught me how to integrate into the Engineering and Design Standards,” he said. “This has allowed me to more effectively reach my diverse population of students.”

Misner also mentioned that he appreciated becoming familiar with effective and engaging new technology, such as Makey Makey Kits, which the grant provided to his class. These kits are designed to give kids the opportunity to become inventors and experiment with creating their own circuits, sensors, code and more, with near-limitless possibilities.

Ferguson also said her experience with the program would be beneficial to her students as well, helping them to learn and investigate in innovative ways.

“The Smart Start Ambassador Program has allowed me to learn and explore engineering, computer science and educational technology with educators, giving me a well-rounded STEM experience,” she said.