An educator at a high school in Jamaica has been recognized as an inspirational and exceptional teacher in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field.
Dr. Margaret Savitzky, a teacher at Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School for 14 1/2 years, was one of seven educators from schools citywide honored with a Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics at a ceremony in Manhattan on Dec. 7.
“It was a complete shock,” Savitzky said. “It is very humbling to be recognized. This is something I would do award or no award.”
The candidate evaluation process was “rigorous and intensive,” according to Savitzky. Winners were chosen by an independent panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators and judged on a criteria of student achievement, teaching style, classroom environment and more.
Savitzky teaches advanced placement biology, chemistry, earth science, living environment, and science research at the career and technical high school.
In 2012, she worked in partnership with school principal Moses Ojeda to create a brand-new, three-year program called “medical assisting.” Developed to endow participants with a complete understanding of the medical profession, students learn the clinical and administrative skills necessary to succeed in their future careers.
“We have a strong population that would like to pursue healthcare,” Savitzky said. “The program will ultimately result in the student becoming medically certified assistants — although most of my students go for higher degrees.”
“Dr. Savitzky’s teaching and concern represents the ethic of ‘above and beyond’ in every way,” Ojeda said. “She is that teacher students will look back on as the person who opened up the world for them, encouraging them to pursue opportunities that they would not have thought possible.”
Each teacher given the honor was also awarded $5,000 plus an additional $2,500 to strengthen their school’s science or mathematics department. Savitzky said funds will go toward buying more equipment for the medical assisting program.
“[The students] are a pretty amazing group of kids who constantly surprise you with their drive and their academic aptitude,” Savitzky said. “And they do come back and share that the [medical assisting] program and the other classes I teach did make a big impact on their futures and success.”