Tag Archives: Newcomers High School

Queens educators win for excellence in teaching science, math

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics

Seven of the city’s top science and math teachers, including three from Queens, know the formula for success in the classroom.

They accepted Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics this week for using creative methods to inspire students to make the grade and pursue careers in their field.

For Thomas Sangiorgi, a Regents chemistry teacher at Townsend Harris High School, this means being a human target.

The 46-year-old educator lets his students throw plastic foam balls at him in order to demonstrate the collision theory. The only way to score a point is to hit him in the head with one.

“You need the right amount of energy and the right amount of aim,” said Sangiorgi, a teacher of 19 years. “The students love the idea of throwing a ball at a teacher.”

The imaginative demonstration is one of many that have made Sangiorgi a living legend at the Flushing school, Sloan officials said.

Other lessons include shooting balled up socks in the air through a makeshift acetylene cannon to show an organic chemistry reaction.

“The louder it is, the more applause I get. It’s pretty nifty,” he said. “And at that point, I’ve got their attention. They want to know what they just saw.”

Yunseon Esther Kim of Francis Lewis High School and Dorina Cheregi of Newcomers High School were also awarded this year.

Kim, an integrated algebra teacher, was lauded for her eight years of “patience, perseverance and gift for lucid mathematical explanation,” according to Sloan officials.

“Ms. Kim is someone who puts in every ounce of her being toward helping kids,” said Francis Lewis

High School Principal David Marmor. “She stays late. She tutors on her free time. She’s a fantastic math teacher. She’s had phenomenal success.”

Kim has also helped two-thirds of her second-year algebra students pass their Regents exams after they failed their first year, Marmor and Sloan officials said.

Cheregi, a Romanian immigrant, has dedicated more than 17 years to teaching basic and advanced math to new immigrant teens. She is credited for her honors students’ 92 percent pass rate on the AP Calculus test, according to award officials.

“To have that role model in the school is really wonderful,” said Newcomers Principal Orlando Sarmiento. “It gives the kids a very concrete example of excellence and how to use education to be successful in the United States.”

The seven winners in the city, chosen by a panel of distinguished science and math educators, are being honored in a ceremony Wednesday by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit organization, and Fund for the City of New York.

Each teacher received $5,000 and another $2,500 for their school’s science and math programs. This is the program’s fifth year.

Other winners were Charlene Chan of the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, Eloise Thompson of DeWitt Clinton High School, Elisabeth Jaffe of Baruch College Campus High School and Eleanor Terry of the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology.



Many divided over Plan B availability in schools

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Voyagers 1w

Though Plan B, also known as the “morning-after” pill, has been dispensed at select New York City high schools since January 2011, its availability was not widely reported until recently.

The pilot program, which also provides birth control to students, started with five schools then expanded to nine more at the start of the 2011-2012 school year, said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) spokesperson Veronica Lewin.

Last school year, 567 students received Plan B at the pilot schools, she said.

One school dropped out of the program, but the emergency contraception is still available to any student at 13 high schools as part of the Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health (CATCH) program, which aims to prevent teen pregnancy.

There are no plans yet to expand it, said Lewin.

Four schools in Queens are in the pilot: John Adams High School in Ozone Park, VOYAGES Preparatory High School in Elmhurst, Newcomers High School and Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City. “Schools were selected based on their community pregnancy rates and availability of other services in the neighborhood. The principals were also supportive of the program,” said Lewin.

According to the Health Department, in New York City more than 7,000 young women become pregnant by age 17, 90 percent of which are unplanned.

Plan B must be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It is available without a prescription for women 17 and older. Those that are younger need a prescription for it, but it is offered free or at a low cost to all teens at some area health clinics. According to Planned Parenthood, Plan B can cost from $10 to $70.

Before the pilot, the morning-after pill had been available to students at privately-run school based health centers, said Lewin.

All of the city’s public high schools already have a mandated Condom Availability Program, where each school must have a Health Resource Room with free condoms. Parents can opt their children out of that program by signing a form.

An opt-out form was also sent home to parents for the Plan B pilot, said Lewin, and about one to two percent of parents have signed it.

Some students at the Queens high schools offering Plan B were well aware that it was available and had received the opt-out form, but others were hearing about it for the first time on Monday, September 24.

“[I learned about Plan B] right now. The class talked about it during government,” said Alondra Payan, a 16-year-old senior at Queens Vocational and Technical High School. “I think it would be better if there was an age restriction. There are kids that are 13, 14 here and they are going to be sexually active because now they think that because of the Plan B it’ll be safe.”

“I found out when it was posted in the newspaper last year,” said Mary Paguay, also a student at Queens Vocational. “If the parents don’t return the opt-out form any child is able to get it. I feel it’s sort of bad because you don’t have the parent’s permission but if the child is in need of it then they probably would want it.”

Some critics are afraid that if it is handed out to teens for free or without parental permission, it will be used as a regular birth control method; others are concerned that it will lead to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

The Health Department’s website stresses that a condom should be used to protect against STDs, and that using ongoing birth control, such as the pill, is the best way to prevent pregnancy.

 With additional reporting by Sweetina Kakar