- Steven Talero '21, MST Special Education - 8th Grade Special Educator, Leonardo DaVinci I.S. 61
- Tania Castillo-Rivera '20, MST Biology - AP Biology, GATES and Forensics Teacher, Fontbonne Hall Academy
Steven Talero '21, 8th Grade Special Educator, Leonardo DaVinci I.S. 61
Even a worldwide pandemic is no match for the heart of our teachers. Graduate student and Special Education 8th grade teacher, Steven Talero'21, and his colleagues at Leonardo DaVinci I.S. 61 School in Corona, Queens, came together to give back to their students who needed it most.
Being one of the hardest hit areas affected by COVID-19, students in his school faced many hardships, including loss of family members, as well as hunger due to loss of income. Faced with this new, tough reality in their once secure worlds, it grew increasingly difficult for them to concentrate on schoolwork, especially not knowing where the next meal would come from, if at all.
Recognizing this need, Steven and his colleagues at I.S. 61 sprung into action. They started a collection to give struggling families in their school groceries on a consistent basis, until they are back on their feet again. Steven himself even hand-delivered a meal and groceries to a student's family after learning that the child had to resort to stealing canned goods from a local deli in order to feed himself and his cousins. In the first week, his teaching team raised over $1,000, in addition to what other faculty have donated and raised.
Pictured left is Steven delivering groceries to some of the very grateful families! Thanks to Steven and his fellow colleague's efforts, they have purchased much-needed groceries for well over 30 families in their initial effort.
And it doesn't end there. The Queens borough president was also gracious and generous enough to donate 100 Fresh Direct boxes with presorted groceries last week. You cannot see it behind his mask, but Steven is displaying a big smile in the photo below, as he was getting ready to deliver the goods to the families.
Some may say this is going over and above the call of duty, but we call it the neverending care and love of a teacher for their students. If you would like to contribute, to help support their efforts, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Steven! You and your colleagues are true teacher heroes!
Tania Castillo-Rivera '20, AP Biology, GATES (General Applications in Technology, Engineering, and Science), and Forensics Teacher, Fontbonne Hall Academy
It was no secret that at the height of the epidemic, our health care workers who put their lives on the line to save others every day did not even have the proper PPE equipment to keep themselves safe. After watching plea after plea for help, the chair of Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn, Michal Ashkenazy, joined by Science teacher and SOE Graduate student, Tania Castillo-Rivera, sprung into action.
Michal, Tania, and other volunteers used their "Fab Lab" at Fontbonne to produce face-shields to help hospitals in need. Fablab has a Full Spectrum RetinaEngrave™ laser-cutter, which reads DXF files to create quick, high quality, and cost-efficient 2D models. After exhausting all their supplies, and unable to obtain additional material due to shortages, creativity, and some good old fashioned engineering kicked in. The team started to use clear binder covers and large rubber bands that they already had stocked at the school. Using AutoCAD software, Tania was able to resize and adapt the original model based on the new materials being used, and also made the production process more effective.
This was no easy task, and physically challenging at times spending hours standing in front of the machine for days on end. But Tania and her colleagues persevered, inspired by the end result. She shared, "I realized that the doctors at the ICUs are currently saving lives for more than 12 hours each shift with no face protection, and that's when I forgot about my feet pain. I constantly kept thinking about how each mask would help a doctor in need and that's what kept us going!" They produced and donated over 120 face shields over two days.
Tania also commends her students who although wanted to be there to help produce masks, did their part by staying home to help flatten the curve, which ultimately helped our healthcare workers. She added, "It's all about teamwork as the FHA (Fontbonne Hall Acadamy) family that we are."