Fund for the City of New York and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Announce Recipients of First Annual Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics

Thu Nov 5, 2009 1:00pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Fund for the City of New York and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Announce
Recipients of First Annual Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and
"No teacher has done so much for me. I never thought an adult could care so
much, and I wanted to perform well because of him."   Student of Award Winner

NEW YORK, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Highlighting some of the outstanding work
being done throughout New York City's public high schools, the Fund for the
City of New York today announced the recipients of the first annual Sloan
Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics. Recognizing
exceptionally dedicated and creative teachers who have achieved outstanding
results, the Awards also acknowledge the role each has played in inspiring
students of all backgrounds and abilities to pursue careers in science and

The seven winners, who were chosen from applications submitted by parents,
students, teachers and school administrators throughout the city's five
boroughs, will be presented with their Sloan Awards on November 5, 2009 at a
4:30 PM ceremony in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. Each award is $7,500 - 
$5,000 for the teacher and $2,500 to strengthen each school's science or
mathematics program - and the recipients will be acknowledged by a variety of
dignitaries and government officials including Nobel Prize winner and Memorial
Sloan-Kettering President Harold Varmus, Chancellor Joel Klein of the New York
City Department of Education, and Sheldon Weinbaum, CUNY Distinguished
Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineers and Chair of the Selection

"What these great teachers share is a passion for their subject and a
commitment to their students," explained Mary McCormick, President of the Fund
for the City of New York. "They create rigorous, nurturing environments in
which students learn to excel and to love science and math. They embody the
excellence that is found in public school classrooms throughout the city."

The winners of the first Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and
Mathematics are:
    --  Katherine Cooper, Townsend Harris High School, Queens
    --  Michael Holmes, High School of American Studies at Lehman College,
    --  Michael Klimetz, John Dewey High School, Brooklyn
    --  Richard Lee, Bronx High School of Science
    --  Fredrick Nelson, Wings Academy, Bronx
    --  Homer Panteloglou, High School of Economics and Finance, Manhattan

    --  Nicola Vitale, Banana Kelly High School, Bronx

McCormick noted that while the Award winners should be recognized first and
foremost for their outstanding teaching ability, many of them have overcome
significant personal and professional obstacles. "Each has a compelling story
to tell, and when you hear them you get a better understanding of what's
contributed to their success as teachers."

According to Dr. Paul L. Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,
the goal of the Awards is to recognize outstanding science and math teachers
in New York City's public high schools, and provide support in making their
teaching materials and techniques widely available. "Outstanding teachers are
the key ingredient for providing an outstanding education to New York City's
students, and they deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication," he

Chancellor Joel Klein added that while it's true American students in general
do not measure up to their counterparts in many other countries in science and
math, it is also true that they can be just as good if not better than any
across the globe. "The real lesson is that when students have the right
teachers and support, they can do anything. That's why the Department of
Education is delighted to help inaugurate these awards, which will continue to
highlight superior teachers who, by their example, inform and inspire others."

Nominations for the 2010 Awards will be accepted from December 1, 2009 through
March 31, 2010. All science and mathematics teachers in New York City's more
than 300 high schools who have taught for at least five years, and who
demonstrate excellence in teaching and in achieving results, are qualified to
be nominated. Winners will be chosen by an independent panel of distinguished
scientists, mathematicians and educators. More information and a nomination
form are available at

The Fund for the City of New York was established by the Ford Foundation in
1968 with the mandate to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. In
partnership with government agencies, nonprofit institutions and foundations,
the Fund has developed and helped to implement innovations in policy,
programs, practices and technology in order to advance the functioning of
government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond. The Fund
seeks out, adapts, applies and assesses ways to enable government and
non-profit agencies to achieve excellence through its five core programs--the
Cash Flow Loan Program, the Incubator Program, the Sloan Public Service
Awards, the Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics
and Technology Consulting. The Fund also fulfills its mission through three
strategic initiatives: the Center on Government Performance, the Center for
Nonprofit Enterprise Solutions and the Center for Internet
Innovation/E-Community Connect.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic nonprofit institution
established by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. in 1934. Its main programs involve science
and technology, standard of living and economic performance, education and
careers in science and technology, selected national issues and a civic
program. The goal of the civic program is to contribute to New York City by
responding to special opportunities the city presents, and by funding
high-leverage programs related to its areas of interest. The Sloan Public
Service Awards, presented annually by the Fund for the City of New York, have
been part of its civic program since 1985.


(Photos Available Upon Request)

KATHERINE COOPER, Townsend Harris High School
Biology, Science Research, Biomedical Ethics, Anatomy-Physiology, Advanced
The daughter of parents who came to the U.S. to escape communism, Katherine
Cooper's passion for science was ignited by her study of dance, which led to
enduring interest in the human body.

Mrs. Cooper began her teaching career at Townsend Harris High School after
graduating from Fordham and NYU with science and education degrees
respectively, and over the last six years has made important contributions to
the school. She has designed Biomedical Ethics and Anatomy-Physiology courses,
mentored students who have won Intel Science Awards, and established the
Townsend Harris Science Olympiad Club, which has won numerous championships.

Employing an approach that allows students to conduct their own research and
draw their own conclusions, Mrs. Cooper excels at guiding and engaging. "She's
not just a teacher or even a mentor - she deals with us as adolescents and
burgeoning scholars," said one student.

MICHAEL HOLMES, High School of American Studies at Lehman College (HSAS)
Honors Chemistry, Honors Biology, Film
Growing up on a farm in North Carolina, Michael Holmes' interest in science
had an explosive start when he began experimenting with chemical reactions and
explosive devices, among other things.

Armed with chemistry degrees from North Carolina Central University, Mr.
Holmes started as a researcher at a variety of prominent institutions before
turning his attention - and making significant contributions - to teaching.

Using innovative techniques, he empowers students to discover concepts on
their own, and creates a sense of intrigue in the classroom that appeals to
different learning styles. Many students comment that Mr. Holmes keeps after
them "until they get it," and that he loves to illustrate how scientific
thinking can be translated to other disciplines.

Not surprisingly, one student who said she didn't like chemistry when she
entered Mr. Holmes' class is now planning to be a pre-med major in college.

Michael Klimetz, John Dewey High School
Earth Science, Physics, AP Physics, Material Science, Geology
Michael Klimetz says that from his father, a civil engineer, he imbibed a
respect for measurement and quantitative analysis.
Like his father, Mr. Klimetz went to City College, and then entered a doctoral
program at SUNY Albany and Rutgers. After challenging conventional wisdom on
Southeast Asian plate tectonics - research that derailed a university career
but that was eventually validated - he responded to an ad and ended up at John
Dewey, where he has been teaching for the last 14 years.
His award-winning students consistently mention his resource-rich web site,
eight tons of rock specimens, and 45,000 scientific volumes. Colleagues praise
the time he spends preparing hands-on experiments, how hard he works to adjust
his methods of explanation, and his focus on creating a comfortable
environment where students can learn and exercise critical inquiry.

A former student summarized it best when he stated that Mr. Klimetz "observes,
listens, and answers every student."

RICHARD LEE, Bronx High School of Science
Biology, AP Biology, Research
A graduate of Bronx Science, Richard Lee's passion for science continued while
attending City College and Columbia University. Although he had a brief stint
as a rock station DJ, he eventually joined Bronx Science and has been teaching
there for 20 years.

Mr. Lee is known for his success rate at the Intel Science Talent Search--70
of his students have been semifinalists, seven were finalists and two were Top
10 winners.

Students and colleagues say his core strengths include sympathy for struggling
students, individual attention, total engagement, and inductive teaching. They
also acknowledge his success in adjusting to a new generation of learners, and
note that his devotion can be seen in the countless weekends and holidays he
spends helping students.

A colleague best summarized Mr. Lee by stating that he "Eats, sleeps, and
breathes the students at Bronx Science."

Integrated Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus
Raised in Jamaica, Fredrick Nelson credits his mother with teaching the
determination, hard work, and self-sacrifice that he put to use while earning
degrees from the University of the West Indies and City College.

Mr. Nelson came to Wings Academy six years ago and immediately began imparting
his vision:  mathematics is a language, and to speak it makes understanding
technology and successful careers possible. Famous for detailed, careful
preparation, he always aims to help students realize that they can solve
problems themselves. These "eureka moments" create confidence, empower
students, and build student-teacher loyalty - inspiring joy and engagement.

Infectious enthusiasm and confidence-building, with careful attention to
skill-development, continually impacts Mr. Nelson's students.

"He has a great way of helping us understand," says one student.  "After
taking his class, I want to be a math professor."

HOMER PANTELOGLOU, High School of Economics and Finance
Honors Living Environment, Marine Biology, AP Biology, Introduction to
The son of Greek immigrants, Homer Panteloglou was the first member of his
family to go to college. At Hofstra, he developed a passion for both biology
and teaching. Despite being discouraged from pursuing a teaching career
because he is legally blind, Mr. Panteloglou has had incredible success in the
classroom for the last 10 years.

"Mr. P" is a master at creating an environment where students are free to ask
questions, addressing obstacles that prevent learning, and patiently pushing
unmotivated students.

Students comment on his creativity in terms of reaching every student, while
colleagues note his development of Honors and AP courses, and a popular
tutoring program called "Bagels and Biology."

"Out of 13 years of school, no teacher has done so much for me. I never
thought an adult could care so much, and I wanted to perform well because of
him," commented a former student.

NICOLA VITALE, Banana Kelly High School
Physics, Algebra, Environmental Science, Thinking Math & Science
Coming from a family of teachers and overcoming a childhood learning
disability, Nicola Vitale gravitated toward hands-on learning and applied

After graduating from SUNY Albany, and working as a stage carpenter, he
started teaching at Banana Kelly. While earning a masters degree, he began to
rethink how science should be taught and implemented his new approach at
Banana Kelly.

Ten years later, and still at Banana Kelly, Mr. Vitale is regarded as a
teacher of teachers. He's frequently praised by peers for his ability to strip
concepts to fundamental levels, foster creativity and curiosity, and transform
the mathematical study from right and wrong to concepts and logic.

Collaborating on a mathematics literacy program for underserved populations, a
City College professor noted the rarity of "teachers who combine Nic's
knowledge of the subject, knowledge about students, and commitment to

SOURCE  Fund for the City of New York

George Sopko, Stanton Public Relations & Marketing,,
+1-646-502-3507; or Mary McCormick, Fund for the City of New York,, +1-212-925-6675
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.