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District Holds 2nd Annual Future Ready Project Showcase

On Thursday, February 29th, a group of teachers demonstrated innovative projects as part of the second annual Ken-Ton School District Future Ready Project Showcase. The event, which took place in the Kenmore Junior/Senior High School Community Room, was the culmination of months of hard work by ten teachers who participated in the Future Ready Project Design Team this year. These talented educators spent several weeks developing innovative instructional activities incorporating technology, engineering, or computer science topics that can be replicated in elementary/middle school classrooms everywhere in order to inspire students to become “future ready.”

The program was supported by the NYS Education Department Smart Start Program. In partnership with the Tonawanda City School District, the Future Ready Project Design Team is one component of our district’s NYSED Smart Start grant program which provides funding for professional development opportunities grounded in the NYS Computer Science & Digital Fluency Standards. Eight Ken-Ton teachers along with two from TCSD participated on this year’s team. They were led by our Director of K-12 Education Anne Martell, who coordinated the initiative, and our Instructional Support Specialists for Technology, who provided programming support in the classroom. These 10 educators engaged in professional development and then came up with their own ideas for unique classroom activities that leverage instructional technology to engage students in critical thinking and collaborative learning.

Through the Smart Start program, the teachers received grant support to help bring their ideas to life in their own classrooms. The Future Ready Project Showcase provided the opportunity to demonstrate these activities outside of the classroom environment for the very first time. Teachers also showcased their project design process, materials/supplies used, and student outcomes. Participants were:

  • Alex Bianchi, 1st grade teacher at Franklin Elementary (“Lasers and Lighthouses”)
  • Robyn Brydalski, 3rd grade teacher at Franklin Elementary (“Butterfly Migration”)
  • Marjorie Julkowski, 8th grade ELA teacher at Kenmore West (“Bringing Student Memoirs to Life!”)
  • Natalia Kim, TCSD (“Content Vocabulary Practice”)
  • Amanda Martin, 1st grade teacher at Edison Elementary (“Algorithms in Our Daily Lives”)
  • Aaron Scoccia, music teacher at Franklin, Edison, and Lindbergh Elementary (“Creating Music in Soundtrap”)
  • Kerry Smith, Instructional Support Specialist (“Algorithms in Our Daily Lives”)
  • Rebecca Thompson, librarian at Franklin Elementary (“Building Bridges”)
  • Allison Wilson, school counselor at Kenmore West (“Computer Science Career Exploration”)
  • Susan Zummo, RtI teacher at Franklin Middle (“Surveys from Students”)

This exciting program was just one small part of a five-year $1.1 million grant secured by Ken-Ton and TCSD through the Smart Start Program. The goal of the initiative is to give teachers the skills needed to educate students how to live safely and productively in a digitally-dominated world; how to effectively utilize technology to create, research, communicate, and collaborate; and to increase the number of students graduating with computer science skills.

Group photo of Future Ready participants