Mark Lonergan Receives Goldin Educator of the Year Award!

From the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education: 
Mark Lonergan  colorAt the recent 13th annual Goldin Foundation Educators Forum hosted by Weston Public Schools, Mark Longergan, High School STEAM Faculty/Center Fellow at Boston Arts Academy in Boston, was recognized for “Excellence in Education.” Mark joined the group of distinguished educators, who since 1990 have been recognized by the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education for making outstanding contributions in their classrooms, schools and communities. He shared his experiences, projects, and insights with other teachers, administrators, parents, and members of local communities at the regional forum.

Take Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math known as STEM, integrate it with energizing and exciting arts curricula, and you get students who now have many entry points into subjects that might otherwise be challenging for them. Mark Lonergan makes that happen every day.

Boston Arts Academy is Boston’s only public high school for the arts that serves 440 students from all sections of the city. Mark decided to draw on students’ strengths, creativity, and artistic talents to help them succeed in math.  He developed a new type of curriculum that incorporated the arts into algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus.  He developed units that connected the hula dance with math functions, the piano keyboard with a number line, and Islamic tiling motifs with tessellations.  (A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again covering a plane without any gaps or overlaps.)   The results are deeper understanding and more student engagement in math classes.

STEAM has transformed the way math and science are taught at BAA.  There are now 30 different STEAM curriculum units for 9th-12th grade classes.  Examples include stop-motion animation used to demonstrate the process of cell division, statistical analysis of Grammy winning song lyrics, and the use of geometry to design lighting for concerts.

The Billboard Design Challenge gets students to think about whether having a billboard on the roof of their school building, which is right across the street from Fenway Park might bring some more attention to the school and perhaps generate some additional funding.  The task is to create a billboard, decide where to locate the rooftop structure keeping in mind location and visibility, and analyze the costs and benefits. This curriculum exemplifies the very best in applying 21st century skills involving critical thinking and creative problem solving.

Mark is the school’s leader in engaging alumni in several new initiatives. The goals are to gather information about the successes and challenges that students face after graduating from BAA and provide a network where alumni support each other in college and careers.  He planned and co-hosted a reunion, which 40 recent graduates attended.  This is an important strategy for early support to help students stay in college. Mark is using the alumni network to mentor students.  The Alumni “Support Our Seniors” event involved alumni talking to current seniors about college applications and the financial aid process. Alums have also come back to mentor 11th graders to discuss college and career pathways.

In addition to teaching, Mark serves as Fellow for the Center of Arts in Education, where he is responsible for professional development and disseminating the work of BAA  as its advocacy arm.  He has co-directed BAA’s Summer Institute; he has presented workshops about the school’s innovative math curriculum; and he has helped create professional learning communities. Mark is committed to supporting the development of new teachers and has worked with interns from many colleges.  He helps them understand what it takes to makes a classroom run well.

His nominators note that “Mark is an extraordinary teacher, colleague, and mentor. He has been a catalyst for change at his school and in the field of arts integration.  He cherishes the humanity of teaching and learning.  Students know this and respond in kind with respect and generosity.  Mark Lonergan has a formative impact on every student.”

The Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education is a non-profit organization that was established in 1990 to recognize “unsung heroes” in education for their excellence, expertise, and demonstrable achievement in education.  Initially, the foundation served 14 school systems represented by The Education Cooperative (TEC) in metro-west Boston.  It has since expanded to include school systems served by the Education Collaborative of Greater Boston (EDCO) and other school districts in California and Texas.  The foundation provides six annual awards of $500 to each group of school systems, to be used at the discretion of the individuals selected.

Excellence in Education awards are given to any persons working directly with students, teachers, or other support staff within the school or community.  Individuals are nominated by their fellow teachers, administrators, parents and other members of the community.  Awards are decided by an Advisory Board comprised of previous Goldin Foundation award recipients.  Central to the Goldin Foundation’s process are: the Educators Forum, a time when recipients, nominators, and community members gather together at one of the schools to present and reflect on their projects and experiences inside and outside of the classroom; internal recognition and support that occur within a given school and local community; professional development; and networking with current teachers, college students preparing to be teachers, and industry representatives.

Ultimately, students are the recipients of the instruction and personal connections by outstanding educators.  According to Harriet Goldin, president and founder of the organization, “It is the Goldin Foundation’s belief that educators play a vital role in society in supporting young people’s growth and preparing them to be adaptable, flexible, creative, and responsive to future societal changes.  Our goals are to foster the respect for appreciation of educators, seek the retention of outstanding educators, and attract dynamic, intelligent, and creative future educators.”  Information about the Goldin Foundation awards for 2015 will be sent to participating schools in October 2014; selection of award winners will be made in February 2015; and the annual Educators Forum will take in April 2015.  For additional information, refer to the website: www.goldinfoundation.org