The Linden Public School District has received a $58,000 donation from Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery to support the district’s science curriculum. The funds will be used to purchase science kits for all of the district’s 400 second-graders.
“Phillips 66 and our colleagues at the Bayway Refinery support our local Linden school community in so many ways,” said Cynthia Apalinski, the district’s elementary science specialist. “Their generous donation is one in a long line of us joining together as partners to provide the strongest science learning opportunities possible to our students.
“This most recent support is representative of our partnership to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. We are extremely grateful for their continuous support and with these funds we are able to purchase new science materials for our second-grade classrooms.”
The Full Option Science System (FOSS) kits supply students with materials to study and investigate units on Insects and Plants; Solids and Liquids; and Pebbles, Sand, and Silt. In all three units, students spend significant time outdoors exploring their schoolyards and local community to make real-life connections with the science concepts they are learning about in their classrooms.
“Thank you to our neighbors at Phillips 66 for their generous support for our science curriculum,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marnie Hazelton. “They say it takes a village to educate a child and this kind of financial backing from one of our vital community partners puts that mantra into action.”
Access to high-quality instructional materials allows Linden’s elementary teachers to provide students with rich and engaging experiences as they investigate phenomena in science and solve problems in engineering.
“At Phillips 66, one of our key focus areas for our philanthropic giving is Education and Literacy. We are very proud to support the purchase of required curriculum materials that will help the development of local Linden students,” said Chris Gallo, general manager of Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery. “We have supported this community need over the past six years, annually addressing a different grade level. With Bayway’s contribution this year, Grades Second through Eighth in the Linden Public Schools will have state-required science kits.”
Apalinski said: “These materials allow our student scientists to develop a love of science, learn how science and engineering can improve our world and solve its most challenging problems, and help them envision a potential trajectory into a science-related career.”
The FOSS program gives students in-depth exposure to life, physical, and earth and space sciences while engaging them in the engineering design process:
Insects and Plants: Young biologists study the biodiversity of plants and animals by investigating firsthand the life cycles and behaviors of common insects and plants. They observe and care for meal worms, milkweed bugs, and painted lady butterflies live in their classrooms. They also plant their own seeds and collect and analyze data about their growth.
Solids and Liquids: Students explore solid and liquid materials by observing, describing, and sorting them according to their properties. Next, they investigate interactions between solids and water, liquids and water, and the melting and freezing of familiar liquids.
Pebbles, Sand, and Silt: Student geologists observe the properties of rocks of various sizes and study the components of soil. They study and analyze the results of weathering and erosion and work collaboratively to locate natural sources of water. They discover various earth materials’ important role as natural resources and uses as building materials.
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Hunterdon County Vocational School District
Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical High School’s Commercial Arts & Advertising Design and 3D Computer Animation Instructor Teresa De Sapio Diaz began this school year with the impressive title of Hunterdon County Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022. She was given the honor by the New Jersey Education Association. During last school year, Diaz was named Educator of the Year by Hunterdon County Vocational School District (HCVSD), which put her in the running for the county-wide Teacher of the Year.
“It felt really good to be recognized and honored for the work that I do,” said Diaz, noting it is significant that a career and technical education (CTE) teacher was included among those selected. “It’s timely because after the pandemic, people realized that what kept the economy moving is a lot of what we train our students to do.”
“We are beyond thrilled to have Mrs. Diaz not only represent our district, but represent all 21 county vocational-technical schools with this honor,” said HCVSD Superintendent Dr. Todd Bonsall. “It is so important for us to have visibility in the profession to help us continue to attract industry professionals who have so much knowledge and passion to share with the next generation.”
As County Teacher of the Year, Diaz had to develop a platform on a topic of her choice that she would share with other county schools, administrators, parents and the community. Diaz selected art education and CTE. To support her platform, she collaborated with several teachers throughout the county over the summer to create a program that has a curriculum with vertical alignment. The program begins in middle school and carries through to high school (Polytech), college, and into a professional career.
“These kinds of things have us all excited to come back to school. It’s important to be open to change and create projects that you would be excited to be involved in. It gets you excited to teach, which rubs off on your students, who then get excited to do it and learn,” said Diaz.
Diaz said the County Teachers of the Year received social media training to help them spread the messages of their platforms. The teachers also are asked to be involved in or speak at events to “elevate the profession of educator and encourage others to become educators.”
Diaz is sharing her experience as an educator on a panel at Seton Hall University, as well as addressing the County Superintendents Roundtable Meeting.
“We also actively seek leadership positions in our schools and communities so we can pass on our knowledge to others,” said Diaz. “This year, I am the district SkillsUSA advisor and was named to the board of the Art Educators of New Jersey, serving as the membership chairperson.” She said although she has presented at the organization’s state conferences in the past and has been a member for more than 18 years, this is the first time she has taken on a leadership role. “It’s been rewarding to take on leadership roles; I’m learning and growing as a teacher, networking and meeting new people. It’s fun. I’m working on writing some articles for journals and magazines. It’s all about passing on our knowledge to others.”
Diaz has felt supported on many levels. “My students were so excited for me and told their parents, who were excited to have their child in the County Teacher of the Year’s classroom. It’s cool to see other people’s reactions to my honor.”
Diaz encourages other professionals to become teachers at their county vocational-technical schools. “It’s so important to share what you know, especially if you’re passionate about something. You’ll want to keep that going and see that excitement and enthusiasm in someone else.”
She believes that more professionals should embrace internships and apprenticeships as well to further share their knowledge with the next generation. “It’s kind of going back in time to family businesses where you learn from your parents and grandparents. Today, you can do that as a professional and pass your knowledge on to strangers and get them just as excited for the field you went into,” said Diaz.
Mount Saint Mary Academy
Fordham University and the Henry Luce Foundation awarded Madeline Newall of Westfield a 2019 graduate of Mount Saint Mary Academy, a Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Scholarship for 2021-2022. Newall is pursuing an applied mathematics major with a psychology minor at Fordham.
The CBL Fund for Women in Science and Engineering at Fordham University was established in 1989 to encourage women to pursue graduate education and careers in the sciences. The scholarship covers tuition and fees not covered by other scholarships and awards for the fall and spring of the 2021-2022 academic year.
“I was extremely excited and grateful when I found out that I received the Clare Booth Luce Scholarship,” said Madeline. “The scholarship will help me pursue my research endeavors with a great academic support system and it allows me to dedicate a large part of my academic life at Fordham to a great research project.”
“Achieving this scholarship would not have been possible without the support of my family and the academic foundation of the Mount where I truly found my passion for mathematics. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity,” she said.
“I am interested in statistics and data analytics for my career goals,” she said. “I hope to work in research, possibly as a data analyst or statistician working in the sports data field or social justice using collected data to find solutions to systemic problems. Through research, I can combine my passions for mathematics and psychology to create substantial change.”
Old Bridge Township Public Schools
Old Bridge School District congratulates Frau Linda Costa on her selection as the “2021 American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) K-8 Outstanding German Educator!” Costa was selected from a group of teachers nationwide who recognize and support the education of the German language and culture. Along with only a handful of other award recipients from across the globe, Costa will be honored during an AATG virtual ceremony on November 20.
The AATG promotes the study of German and prepares students as transcultural, multilingual participants in a global world. Costa has served to foster that mission throughout her career at Old Bridge School District. As the German teacher at Jonas Salk Middle School, she has played a critical role in the development and growth of the world language program. Creating a need and an understanding of cross-cultural communication has become increasingly important in our world. With this in mind, Costa creates an inviting environment for students to learn the German language, fosters an understanding of diversity in our world and allows students to begin their love for the study of a new language and culture. She has taught French and German at both the high school and middle school levels at Old Bridge, advancing student exchange programs at all levels.
The Old Bridge School District begins its study of world language in kindergarten in 2021 marking our inaugural year for such an early start. Previously, elementary students were taught basics of Spanish in third, fourth and fifth grades only. Aware that students acquire and retain language skills when exposed at much younger ages, the world language department at Old Bridge is committed to supporting early learner language programs. Students in all elementary schools are beginning exploration programs in Italian, Mandarin and Spanish this year, with focus on culture and foundations of communication. Authentic learning units of study are taught at all levels, increasing aural skills. The goal for our elementary program is to create a passion for the continued study of world language in the middle and high school. Old Bridge offers five language programs to students (Mandarin, French, German, Italian, Spanish), with Advanced Placement options in all.
Although the annual German Exchange voyage with students from Steinbart Gymnasium in Duisburg, Germany is on temporary pause due to current pandemic travel conditions, they hope to start the exchange again soon. In the interim, teachers continue to plan rich virtual experiences for all students.
Somerset County Vocational and Technical Schools
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, the Spanish Department at Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) hosted a Latin percussion workshop on October 1 featuring Hector Morales, a Peruvian drummer and percussionist with over 15 years of experience as a teaching artist in the tri-state area. Morales presented six classes of Spanish music instruction to SCVTHS World Language students.
Morales, who specializes in Afro-Peruvian music, presented to the students how his unique music and instruments related to the Peruvian culture and its history. During the workshops, Morales displayed, discussed and played a variety of Peruvian percussion instruments and even invited the students to participate with him by playing some of the instruments. Morales also explained how the music ties both North American and Latin American countries together. Morales said, “Music is the universal language.”
“Learning by doing or learning from concrete experience is a theory that when putting into practice creates meaningful learning,” said SCVTHS Spanish Instructor Guillermo Reina. “I really liked the workshop and the students were exposed to Hispanic culture from a global point of view, even connecting origins of Peruvian music from the African descendants’ diaspora.”
SCVTHS junior Chase Thompson of Bridgewater said, “I found it to be both entertaining and informative. I liked how he (Mr. Morales) let us played instruments and was patient enough to teach us how to play them properly.”
Union Catholic Regional High School
Mike Minniti of Scotch Plain leads the soccer team with seven goals, an honor roll student, and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Minniti had a day he will never forget on Thursday, October 7 when he continued his torrid goal scoring streak by finding the back of the net in overtime to give Union Catholic a dramatic 2-1 victory over Brearley on Senior Day at Ponderosa Park. That gave Minniti a team-high seven goals on the season.
After the game, Minniti hustled back over to Union Catholic for a special ceremony where he was one of 128 students inducted into the National Honor Society.
Westfield Public Schools
It was a morning of fitness and fellowship across the school district as more than 2,000 elementary students and their families celebrated Walk to School Day in Westfield on Oct. 6.
Organized by the Westfield BRAKES Group (Bikers, Runners, and Kids are Entitled to Safety) and school PTOs, the event is modeled after International Walk to School Day, a global effort involving communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day.
In Westfield, students in grades first to fifth skipped, hopped, and walked to their school. Some received special escorts after entering and winning a raffle for the chance to walk with a police officer, principal, school mascot, or other local dignitary.
Wilson second grader Zoey Edelstein was greeted at her front door by Mayor Shelley Brindle who escorted her to school, while Franklin second grader Talia Farzad won the chance to be accompanied by Franklin principal Dr. Paul Duncan. Police Sergeant Thomas Ostrander kept pace with Kayla Marcus, a third grader at Franklin and Jefferson fourth grader Owen Hennes walked and talked with school superintendent Dr. Raymond González.
“I enjoyed meeting Owen and his family,” said González. “I love these types of events that really bring the community together.”
Each of the six elementary schools had banners for students to sign and “I Walked” stickers provided by Weichert Realtors.
BRAKES is an organization that works to promote safe walking and biking routes for Westfield pedestrians of all ages.
Student and School news appears on Saturdays. Email:[email protected]
Carolyn Sampson is Executive Office Assistant for the Courier News, The Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com, and handles the weekly Student News page.