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The WISE award was created to recognize Westchester County teachers who develop innovative solutions to challenges facing our youth through the educational systemWestchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the Westchester Youth Bureau have created the Westchester Innovative School Educators (WISE) Award. This award is an opportunity to recognize K-12 education professionals who have developed innovative solutions to challenges facing our youth through the educational system that serves them.

"Status quo is not an option when it comes to 21st century academics," said Astorino. "Innovative educators who go the extra mile to help their students achieve deserve to be honored."

Innovations could include:

  • Implementing innovative instructional techniques; addressing college and career readiness; developing specialized curricula for STEM, English language learners, Special Education, Career and Technical Education.
  • Inspiring youth to greatness in areas such as STEM and academics, community engagement or environmental neighborhood improvement.
  • Engaging parents/caregivers in the educational experience of youth to improve student performance.

To qualify, nominees must be certified professionals currently working in educational settings or alternative educational pathways. Nominees must have a demonstrated positive influence on student success. Nominees must work in Westchester County.

We present to you the two Westchester County Youth Board Honorees for the 2016 WISE Award.

Michael Garcia-Wing, Hommocks Middle SchoolMichael Garcia-Wing, Hommocks Middle School
Michael has been teaching 8th grade earth science at Hommocks Middle School in Mamaroneck since 2002. He loves the classroom, but his enthusiasm and passion for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in an informal setting to disadvantaged youth is also incredibly rewarding.

Observing student curiosity and passion to learn constantly reminds Michael why he became an educator. Working directly with the Westchester County Youth Bureau and the City of White Plains has added to his excitement about STEM.

As Director of Informal Science Programs at the STEM Leadership Center, Michael says he is fortunate to be part of an organization since 2014 that believes in the same goal as he does, which is to expose disadvantaged youth to STEM effectively.

Dr. Dean Saghafi, Lincoln High SchoolDr. Dean Saghafi, Lincoln High School
For the last 10 years, Dean has been teaching at Lincoln High School in Yonkers and is the Director of the Program for Scientific Inquiry, a science research academy that he developed.

Dean has won the Young Science Achiever’s Teacher of the Year Award and the 2012–2013 Outstanding Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year Award. Moreover, last year he was the recipient of the Yonkers Public Schools Teacher of the Year Award.

Dean believes that all students are entitled to an equal education, regardless of their academic level, and feels that this should include providing opportunities for students that subject them to real life experiences and teaches them 21st century skills. He emphasizes to his students that they will continue to learn for the rest of their lives. He tries to improve the achievement levels of his students by providing them with a nurturing and supportive environment, which allows them to freely express themselves in the classroom. Dean tries to understand the needs of each student, and tries to provide them with the things that will allow them to academically flourish.