By Patrick Donachie
A handful of public school science and mathematics teachers were honored by receiving Sloan Awards for Excellence in teaching Science and Mathematics last week, bestowed by the Fund for the City of New York. The seven winners included three Queens educators.
The honorees were celebrated at a ceremony held at the Great Hall at the Cooper Union in Manhattan Dec. 7. The awards honor city public high school teachers who help instill a love and passion for science and math in their students and often encourage them to pursue jobs in those fields.
Dr. Margaret Savitzky, one of the honorees, teaches medical assisting, biology and chemistry at the Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Jamaica. Savitzky was previously a chiropractor, and after an injury in 2001, she moved into teaching. She said the experience led to her finding her calling in education, where her background in health care informed her approach to teaching. She said Thomas Edison’s status as a Career and Technical Education school enables her to promote hands-on learning.
“There is book learning; they have to understand the steps and procedures. It helps to be a CTE program where I can say, ‘OK, let’s get the books off the table. Let’s practice taking blood pressure,’” she said.
In 2012, Savitzky crafted a medical assisting program that offers students coursework, lab work training and practical experience. Savitzky detailed a lesson plan that involves using a fake arm with tubes in it to help students practice putting in an IV. Savitzky even had to purchase fake blood to make the exercise as close to reality for her students as possible.
Savitzky estimated that the overwhelming majority of her students continue on to college, and many visit years later to tell her they are embarking on careers as doctors, pharmacists or physical therapists.
The other Queens educators honored included Maria Elizabeth Dela Cruz, a mathematics teacher at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, and Manjot Singh, a mathematics teacher at John Bowne High School in Flushing. Each teacher was awarded a $5,000 prize and their schools benefitted from a $2,500 award to help strengthen their science and mathematics departments.
The Fund for the City of New York was established in 1968 to help improve the quality of life for New Yorkers and has administered the Sloan Awards since 1985. The awards are named after Alfred P. Sloan, a former chairman and CEO for General Motors. The foundation in his name was established in 1934.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona