2013-12-04 / Features

Three Queens High School Teachers Win Awards

The Fund for the City of New York and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation today announced the recipients of the fifth annual Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics. The awards recognize creative mathematics and science teachers who achieve superb results and inspire young people to pursue careers in science and mathematics.

The seven winners, who were chosen from applications submitted by parents, students, teachers, and administrators throughout the five boroughs, will be honored today at a ceremony in the Great Hall at The Cooper Union. The Sloan Award is not only prestigious, but each teacher will be awarded a prize of $5,000 and each school will receive $2,500 to strengthen science and mathematics programs.

To qualify for nomination, a teacher must be a New York City high school math or science teacher for at least five years, must teach at least four periods a day, and must demonstrate excellence in teaching and in achieving results. The winners are chosen by an independent panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators. More on the award and evaluation criteria can be found at www.fcny.org/fcny/core/sae/.

Including this year’s winners, to date the program has recognized 38 teachers from 36 of New York City’s 423 public high schools. The winners represent schools in four of the city’s five boroughs, ranging in size from 440 students at the Baruch College Campus H.S. in Manhattan to more than 4,000 students at Francis Lewis H.S. in Queens. Three of the the seven winners are from Queens schools, the most of any borough:

• Dorina Cheregi, Algebra/Trigonometry, Pre- Calculus, AP Calculus, Newcomers H.S., Long Island City

• Y.S. Kim, Integrated Algebra, Integrated Algebra ICT, Francis Lewis H.S., Fresh Meadows

• Thomas Sangiorgi, Regents Chemistry, Advanced Topics in Science, Townsend Harris H.S., Flushing

In Sangiorgi’s chemistry class at Townsend Harris H.S., it’s not uncommon to find him shooting balled up socks over the heads of astonished students. Propelled by a makeshift cannon, the flying socks are but one of the imaginative demonstrations that have made Sangiorgi a legend in his 18 years teaching at Townsend. His demonstrations lead to in-depth lessons that connect chemistry with the everyday, exploring why bananas turn brown or why partially hydrogenated oils are used in candy bars. Outside the classroom, he coaches Townsend’s Science Olympiad, which has grown to include a tenth of the student body— the largest organization in the school. Says a colleague, “Tom is a teacher who puts his heart into everything he does.”

Francis Lewis H.S. is the fourth largest high school in the city with 4,300 students, almost all of whom live in South Flushing and Fresh Meadows. From day one as a newly minted New York City Teaching Fellow, Kim has impressed her colleagues by her ability to teach students with diverse levels of preparation. For eight years at Francis Lewis, Kim’s patience, perseverance and gift for lucid mathematical explanation have achieved remarkable results. She recently taught second-year algebra to students who had all failed first-year algebra. Two-thirds of her students then passed the Regents exam, an astonishing achievement. A former Francis Lewis principal said, “She reaches kids whom some folks would say are unreachable.”

A Romanian immigrant, Cheregi arrived in the U.S. as a math teacher speaking little English. It is fitting, then, that she teaches math at Newcomers H.S., a gateway school for newly arrived immigrant teenagers from all over the world. For more than 17 years now, Cheregi’s exacting standards, compassionate style and hours of preparation produce enviable results. Her honors students have a 92 percent pass rate on the AP Calculus exam and under her tutelage, Newcomers’ Math Team has become a contender in the New York City High School Math League, holding their own against the specialized high schools. One student said, “She’s the best math teacher I’ve ever had.”

The Fund for the City of New York was established by the Ford Foundation in 1968 with the mandate to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. For more than three decades, in partnership with government agencies, nonprofit institutions, and foundation, the Fund has developed and helped to implement innovations in policy, programs, practice, and technology in order to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic nonprofit institution established by Alfred P. Sloan in 1934. Its main programs involve science and technology, standard of living and economic performance, education and careers in science and technology, selected national issues, and a civic program. The goal of a civic program is to contribute to New York City by responding to social opportunities the city presents, and by funding high-leverage programs related to its area of interest. The Sloan Public Service Awards, presented annually by the Fund for the City of New York, have been part of its civic program since 1985.

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