Monday - October 16 - - B day
Tuesday - October 17 - C day
Wednesday - October 18 - D day
Thursday - October 19 - A day
Friday - October 20 - B day
To promote inclusion, kindness, empathy and teamwork, Mahopac Middle School kicked off its Wingman program for the second year this week, with guest speaker and program creator Ian Hockley. Hockley, who lost his son, Dylan, in the Sandy Hook shootings, created the program in his son’s memory to train teachers and student leaders on ways to provide a more inclusive school environment. He brought with him co-speaker Eddie Slowikowski, who motivated students through stories and activities.
Hockley spoke of six-year-old Dylan, who was autistic and who benefited greatly when friends were empathetic to his differences. “Dylan was shy,” he said, “and couldn’t get involved in things easily at school. But when people took the time to explain things to him, he would get it, and he would get involved. Those types of people who step in and help—they are wingmen.”
Currently the program is in the tristate area with plans to expand throughout the country. While Hockley trains teachers in the program, he says it is the students who really are the leaders.
“The program really belongs to the them,” said Hockley. “The student leaders are the ones that set the direction for the program and decide on activities and topics.”
Five MMS teachers trained in the Wingman philosophy. Christine McNeill, Melissa Nyikos, Jenifer Maloney, Ginny Gertling and Carol Polimino are working with a number of student leaders to get the program firmly established in the school.
Slowikowski’s presentation, which motivated students with dance moves, sound effects and music, had a profound message: “Each one of you has something that makes you uniquely who you are,” he said. “And you have the opportunity each day to use those talents to do something good for someone else.”
Though Tom Cozzocrea has spent the past 12 years as a teacher and administrator in New York City public schools, being named the new principal of Mahopac Middle School is a homecoming of sorts.
“I grew up in Carmel,” said Cozzocrea, “and though I received great training in the city, I am really excited to be in Mahopac, where I already feel at home in the school community. Everyone has been so welcoming.”
Cozzocrea has worked as an elementary school teacher at PS 97 in the Bronx; as a principal mentee at PS 25 bilingual school; and as principal of PS/MS 5, a pre-K- grade 8 school also in the Bronx.
“I thought I would be a career New York City educator, but the opportunity to come to a tight-knit community like Mahopac, where technology, music and sports are all in the forefront, was too good to pass up,” Cozzocrea said.
He said he is impressed with the level of teacher involvement with students as well as the collaboration among teachers.
Cozzocrea, who lives in Pawling with his wife and two children, said he plans to continue and expand that level of teamwork. “When all of us work together, it really helps make the best experience for students. I am really looking forward to working with the community, our students and our staff.”
What better way to learn science and engineering principles than through hands-on experimentation? That’s what Mahopac Middle School (MMS) students did this week when they answered the question, How can an egg be dropped off a tall building without breaking?
Sixth grade students prepared for the annual Egg Drop event by designing containers for their eggs using scientific and engineering principles as part of the school’s commitment to STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
MMS teacher Victoria Lew guided students from sixth grade classes through the challenge, based on the Mars Rover landing. Students worked on making the best “rover” for their “eggstronauts.”
“The students are really learning the engineering and design process as well as Newton’s laws,” said Lew. Former MMS STEM instructor Joseph Corace came out of retirement to launch the egg rovers off of the school building. Corace had led the experiment in previous years. “He is the most comfortable up there launching the eggs,” said Lew, “so we encouraged him to come back and do it again.”
Though some of the eggs made it through the experiment and some of them didn’t, all of the students benefited from learning what worked and what didn’t—key steps to the scientific method.
The long-range goal of STEM education is to prepare students for a full range of college and career choices in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Welcome back to Mahopac Middle School! Have a great school year!
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