by Melanie Correa
December 7, 2017
The Fund for the City of New York awarded two Bronx teachers with the Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics. William J. Lynam and Jason Garofalo were honored along with five others, because of their inspiration to students and their work at exceeding expectations to advance students’ success.
“This year’s winners bring excitement, rigor, innovation, and commitment into their classrooms. Their students develop confidence and a life-long love of science and mathematics,” said Mary McCormick, President of the Fund for the City of New York.
The winners, who received grand prizes of $5,000 and $2,500 for their respective math and science departments, were chosen from applications submitted by students, teachers, parents, and administrators.
“Bill’s class is like the lair of a mad scientist,” said one student about Mr. Lynam, who teaches Environmental Science and Agricultural Science at Gotham Collaborative High School in the Bronx.
The honorees were awarded because they achieved extraordinary results from students due to their dedication and overall outlook towards teaching the subjects they are most passionate about.
Mr. Garofalo teaches a part seminar, part mathematical workshop at the Marble Hill School for International Studies and focuses on robust comprehension, not on the right answer.
This approach lead one student to say, “My brain often hurts in that class, but I feel better for it.”
Because New York’s diverse school system has over 400 high schools, with school size ranging from 400-4,000 students, the educators must teach students from all around the world, despite language barriers.
Another student of Mr. Garofalo’s at the Marble Hill school said, “I came to the U.S when I was 14 from the Dominican Republic. To find someone in my first year in high school who was ready to believe in me was a special gift.”
That student has recently received a four-year scholarship to Hamilton College.
The distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators who serve as an independent panel in selecting the honorees, could not ignore the teachers’ commitment to their craft.
Mr. Lynam, who created a 3-acre garden and orchard from an abandoned lot for his course says, “If you do not experiment, if you do not have a connection to what you are learning, your view of science is skewed to thinking it belongs in a textbook.”
Ms. McCormick summed up everyone’s gratitude by saying, “These teachers are the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night to help their students achieve success. They are revered and beloved.”
The others honored were: Erica Guzmán – Civic Leadership Academy, Hyungmin Park – New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m), Krishna Mahabir – Grover Cleveland High School, Martina Gately – James Madison High School, and Wendy Dunson-DelValle – Brooklyn High School of the Arts