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Area Superintendents Discuss My Brother's Keeper and visit the Armory
Several area Superintendents traveled to Newburgh last week to discuss the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Part of the day included a trip to the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. Superintendents were able to tour the Armory and hear about programs offered on Saturdays and throughout the week.
Four hundred students and their parents are here every Saturday - it's a magical place. We bring over 50 student volunteers. Sometimes they don’t even sign up, but they’re always there - on breaks and in the summer too.” Mr. Matteo Doddo, Principal of Newburgh Free Academy, North Campus volunteers every Saturday
Each presenter described the programs that are offered as both fun and also very educational. “The parents are thirsty to have their children learning.”
Featured in the discussion on this day was Scholars in Scrubs, Coding, and Graphic Design.
Mrs. Linda Romano, 2018 ACTE National Teacher of the Year, discussed the collaborative effort among her high school students in developing the program for younger scholars at the Armory. “My students collaborated with me. They said, ‘wouldn't it be nice if we could teach some of the things we are learning’. It really reinforces their learning material when they can take what they’ve been learning and teach it to the younger scholars here at the Armory.”
Courses offered in health sciences on Saturdays are basic anatomy, reading material, and drawing pictures to maintain age appropriate content for the students. Medical professionals and peers have been brought in to speak with the students as well. Mrs. Romano also brings in health care professionals from around the community, so they become familiar faces to the students who may be visiting them with their families, so they’re not as frightened when going to the doctor’s office.
“I'm hoping some day, these future RNs will come back to teach for us.” Mrs. Linda Romano mentioned of both her scholars at NFA North and those enrolled in the programs at the Armory.
Students in grades K-8 are learning age appropriate material that helps them apply mathematics learned in the classroom and reinforces literacy with things like counting pulse and calculating circumference.
Emotional intelligence is also a focus. Currently, mindfulness training is an opening exercise of every class. “These little scholars began getting in touch with their feelings. They weren't shy about telling me how they were feeling that day. Through these exercises, we are able to address and identify feelings and work through that. As a result, I’ve seen less acting out. I truly believe, especially in my field, in empathy, compassion, and love. And we need that as Nurses and Teachers, we need to nurture each other, but in this world in general as well.” Mrs. Linda Roman
Orthopedic representatives come in and real life operating materials used for demonstrations. Students are able to look at real x-rays. There is a big idea of career exploration as well. Students learn about radiology, nursing, and plain old anatomy that can be used for every health science field. The lesson plans include objectives and a lesson plan with hands on skills which is where our students can assist. There is also a reading corner if a student is experiencing too much simulation and need to take a break. A high school student is always there to facilitate 1:1 reading.
Students then move to high level coding and scripting languages, which leads to Robotics.
Students are also taught cyber literacy. Students are educated in things like phishing, so they can be better informed consumers in digital age. Digital citizenship and cyber security are important aspects of learning as students are prepared to be leaders beyond Academy Field.
Local business owners and community members also teach students coding and computer related course offers.
“Problem solving and logic help with math and science. We’re already seeing results. Two students who graduated from our program at the Armory are now in Excelsior and they’re at least a year ahead.” Mr. Svarczkopf
“All educational programs are tuned into being a feeder into the Newburgh School district. When we started, we had 30 kids. We anticipate working with 360 students in week by 2020.” Mr. William Kaplan
“I was doing some of this stuff in college and hear 3rd and 4th graders are nailing it.” Community member and small business owner who also teaches at the Armory
Students also learn basic typing. In a 12-week program, students go from typing as a 12 word per minute pace to a 55 word per minute pace. When we begin, building one webpage usually takes the full 12 weeks. The advanced sessions are usually building a webpage every week. Courses are offered Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Students can attend all three or just one or two. Courses are accessible, so students can take what they’ve learned home or to the library to practice the skills they’re learning.
“At the most fundamental level, we’re teaching our students to solve problems and think. Ideally, we want our students to become life-long learners who don’t really need us very much anymore because they’ve learned the basic skills to advance beyond our advanced courses on their own.” Mr. Dan Svarczkopf, a Computer Science teacher at NFA North’s Excelsior Academy, also volunteers at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center every Saturday.
“Students begin with Scratch with basic programming skills. They work to build conceptual knowledge throughout the lessons. For robotics, students learn circuitry, coding, and then how to physically build it, so incorporating electrical engineering.” Mr. Svarczkopf
“We also want students to be able to communicate what they’re learning and help other people. We don’t want our students just coding in silos.” Mr. Svarczkopf