2019 Orange & Rockland STEM Classroom Grant Awards

These Rockland County teachers on the stage were awarded Orange and Rockland (O&R) STEM classroom grants at a reception during the evening of March 15, 2019 at the utility’s Spring Valley office. Any project in science, technology, engineering and math was considered.

By Barry Warner

O&R supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education through classroom projects and professional development for teachers. Grants of up to $1,000 were awarded to 35 Rockland County educators (65 in all from O&R’s service territory) at schools from pre-K to 12th grade on Wednesday May 15th, 2019.

Any creative classroom project in science, technology, engineering and math was considered. Projects that incorporated the following were especially encouraged:

. Designed to improve, advance and enrich student learning
. Targeted at a specific stage of student development
. A range from formative ideas that explore learning concepts to fully tested models ready to be adopted and disseminated
. The study of electricity and electricity production, natural gas exploration, renewable and clean energy
. The project had to be a one-time, one-year implementation and evaluation

“To our winners: Congratulations on being recognized for your hard work and diligence,” O&R CEO and President Bob Sanchez said. “We received double the application we received last year. It wasn’t a gift, it was your hard work that allowed this to happen. We are partners with you when it comes to STEM. We want to make sure we are conveying this message to you. When it comes to STEM, that is our regional work force. Twenty-five years from now, when I am not here anymore, the kids that you see in the audience will be running this. The employees that we have here really enjoy STEM and that’s an important outlet for us.”

“We all recognize that technology is constantly changing,” he continued. “Every day, smart phones are getting smarter and smarter. Today we are getting energy frpm the sun, wind and water, which can be stored for a later time. It happens because you are making science so fascinating. Thank you for fortifying our future.”

“The STEM Program has been getting bigger and we have been receiving more applications, ”Mike Donovan, O&R Communications Director told the Rockland County Times. “The grants are made with O&R shareholder money that comes from the profits of the company. We have some magnificent projects. They are innovative, practical and when you show kids how to run a robot, it’s a remarkable change because they can touch it, feel it and run it by themselves. A light bulb goes off in someone’s head about how science works. They can have ownership of the outcome. A lot of the robot kits make it easier for the teachers, so they have more instructional time. Now a student can run a robot with a solar panel that is plugged in.”

Rockland County Classroom grant winners are:
Albertus Magnus High School-Cristina Conciatori; Bardonia Elementary School-Joathan Ross; Clarkstown Central School District-Christina Amendola, Dean Gianakouras and Amamda Solarsh; Cornerstone Christian School-Joan S. Galluci; Felix Festa Middle School-Dan Neil; Fieldstone Middle School-David Guerrieri; Fleetwood Elementary Schol-Janelle A. Simpson-Luna; Haverstraw Elementary School-Nicole jessi, Kevin McCauley and Letitia Politi; Hempstead Elementary School-Keri Prusinowski and Benjamin Toper; Kakiat STEAM Academy-Stacey-Anne McDonald; New City Jewish Center Early childhood Center-Laurie Schoolsky; North Rockland High School-Jeanne Maguire; Pearl River School District-Kara Afanasewicz, Jessica Kearns, Kimberly Ulrich, Howard Baumel & Michael Herskowitz; Richard P. Connor School-Trisha Lanese; Sloatsburg Elementary School-Eleni Pallogudis, Elvire Conklin; South Orangetown Middle School-Louis Chugranis; Spring Valley High School-Jannethe Pardo; St. Paul School- Denise Snyder, Sr. Anne Schwartz, AnneMarie Romeo & Donna Cardinuto; Stony Point Elementary School-Jennifer LaBier; Tappan Zee High School-Karen Connell and Willow Grove Elementary School-Rickey McGillicuddy.

“Your children will be running this company in a few short years,” Linda Feger, O&R Manager-Strategic Partnerships said. “Our hope is that your children will have a passion for STEM. We believe if we work together, our company and schools like yours can inspire your children to be challenged and to give them the STEM spark. That spark will lead to careers as biochemists, computer scientists and a host of other very rewarding positions.

As of today, O&R has given out 197 grants with over $174,000 awarded. These winners came from every corner of O&R’s service territory. For instance, O&R awarded a grant to Tappan Zee High School Computer Science /Makerspace teacher Karen Connell for the Drone Voyager project. Connell plans to teach students the programming language Python and how to use sensor data analysis, collaborative programming and decision-making.

In addition, South Orangetown Middle School (SOMS) Technology teacher Lou Chugranis was awarded a grant to construct an off-grid, micro greenhouse in the SOMS Courtyard to allow students to extend their gardening project all year-round. By building the 32 square-foot greenhouse, students will learn about sustainable technologies, electricity, photovoltaics plus energy conservation, in addition to their ongoing study of agriculture and food production.