First Annual Awards for Excellence
Teaching Science and Mathematics
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Fund for the City of New York

The Great Hall
Cooper Union

November 5, 2009
I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its generous sponsorship of the Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics awards program. I also wish to thank Mary McCormick, president of the Fund for the City of New York, for her tireless professionalism and foresight as the logistical linchpin who  fastened all of the diverse participants and complex plans into this smooth and seamless success. 

I am a very fortunate man. Few people can claim a life as personally and professionally satisfying as that which I have spent in the service of the children of the City of New York. It is a life that is the logical consequence of a youth forged in the disciplined crucible of science and mathematics, while gently cradled in the loving hands of the humanities. I am an academician. There isn't a time when my dreams of a life as an academician ever faltered. The accomplishments for which I am honored today represent a synoptic view of a life committed to the furtherance of science, the acquisition of knowledge, the pursuit of wisdom, the nurturing of the soul, the love and well-being of my family, and the growth, happiness, and future prosperity of my students. 

I am also a very selfish man. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I have the best job, with the best colleagues, in the best high school in the Department of Education. I am eagerly looking forward to spending many more days in the pleasant pursuit of science with the sweetest, brightest, and most respectful students in the City of New York. 

But I am also a concerned and troubled man. I am concerned that public education has become the lightning rod and scapegoat for many of society's ills and shortcomings. I am troubled that the educational venue of New York City youth has become the battleground over which irreconcilable sociopolitical forces and special interests have chosen do combat. It is a conflict which paralyzes a public education system, once the envy of the modern world, to the point where few children are left behind because so few children are moving forward. Our schools must not be a forum for social complaint. They must not be places where adults congregate to argue, gain visibility, or attempt to exert leverage over provincial political matters. Schools must function as places of enlightenment, encouragement, and ennoblement. 

Ultimately, I am a hopeful man. I am confident the stewards of our free society's most venerated and sacred of institutions will redouble their efforts in ensuring that each and every child in the City of New York is bestowed with the gift of a meaningful and purposeful education, vital to their growth, security, prosperity, and stability.

I gratefully accept this award on behalf of the following people:
- on behalf of Lisa Scacalossi, Zane Jacobs, and Honora Dash of John Dewey High School for their unfailing support and confidence;
- on behalf of my high school teachers, my true role models, who showed me that conveying even the most rigorous and challenging concepts are decidedly more effective and palatable when teachers are kind, compassionate, patient, and understanding;
- on behalf of my students, whose unconditional respect and trust inspire me each and every day;
- on behalf of my son, Michael, who helped me learn what it takes to be a good caregiver;
- on behalf of my wife of 35 years, Stephanie, for supporting my thirst for rocks, books about rocks, and physics,
- and on behalf of my grandmother, Emma Bonsignore, who always had more confidence in me than I ever had in myself.

Thank you.

Acceptance Speech
Link to Acceptance Speech in the Great Hall at Cooper Union
Photo Gallery
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Fund for the City of New York

John Dewey High School

November 13, 2009
1. Katherine Cooper
2. Michael Holmes
3. Michael P. Klimetz
6. Fredrick Nelson
4. Homer Panteloglou
5. Nicola Vitale
7. Richard Lee
Once again, I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its sponsorship of the Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics awards program. Today's celebration would not have been possible without the Foundation's visionary and substantive commitment to the advancement of science and mathematics education in the City of New York.

I also wish to acknowledge Mary McCormick, President of the Fund for the City of New York, and her efficient, cordial and utterly professional staff for their nothing short of miraculous orchestration of the celebratory symphonies at Cooper Union and here at John Dewey High School. Mary's coordination of photographers, videographers, editors, reporters, speakers, participants, selection committee members, invited guests and countless cooperating others was so well choreographed and seamless that even Balanchine would be humbled. I admire her sharpness, vision, commitment to excellence, determination, remarkable organizational skills, and most of all, her kindness and consideration. Mary always put me at my ease, especially during those "in front of the camera" situations in which I was clearly "way out of my element". Mary and her staff were always sensitive and respectful, and they treated me as if I were royalty.

Through a professionally and thoughtfully managed campaign of public awareness, professional as well as peer recognition, and generous financial reward, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has acquainted the world with the names, faces, abilities, characters, and missions of seven public school educators uncompromisingly devoted to their students, the schools in which they serve, and the highest standard of pedagogy. They have singlehandedly brought to the forefront an aspect of educational life in New York City that otherwise would have remained unnoticed and unappreciated. They have shown that professionalism and academic rigor are indeed alive and well here and in many other schools. They have bravely and openly challenged the populist image of all teachers as slothful incompetents and in so doing, have raised the morale and confidence of the countless thousands whose daily contributions to the growth and development of New York City youth may never be fully comprehended or recognized. I will never forget the honor and magnanimity the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has bestowed upon me. I solemnly promise to forever serve the students of John Dewey High School to the best of my professional ability, to faithfully support the Foundation and its mission, and to reaffirm myself worthy as a Sloan Foundation award recipient each and every day.

Most of all, I am deeply indebted to my high school teachers. Over forty years ago I attended Lincoln High School in Yonkers, New York, a suburban community just north of New York City. As a public school student I studied Regents subjects and sat for Regents Examinations just as John Dewey High School students are required to do. Classes met every day and were rigorous in terms of material presented as well as the level of student expectations. All of my teachers labored tirelessly to ensure that I and my classmates met the standard and achieved success. There are five in particular, however, who are deserving of special mention due to their extraordinary skill and devotion: Ms. Kathleen Ryan, History, Mr. Alphonse Gelormino, History; Mr. Samuel Sherman, Mathematics; Mr. Anthony Leo, Chemistry; and Mr. Mario Biagiotti, Physics. Each and every one was master of their subject. Each and every one was a consummate professional and patriot. Each and every one was a decent, compassionate and kind human being who liked me for who I was and was not afraid to show it. These six souls are my true role models. They are the template from which my own teaching style has been crafted. I owe all of my professional as well as personal successes and accomplishments to them. They will remain in my mind and in my heart forever.

I also wish to thank my students, my beloved young scholars of the present and past, whose trust, respect, and youthful enthusiasm have been a perpetual source of inspiration and joy. I have always enjoyed your company. I look forward to working and learning with each and every one of you. Remember that there is no such thing as a former student of mine. You will always be my students. I am pleased to help you in any way you need. I am proud to serve you. I sincerely appreciate your sacrifice of valuable class time to attend today's special assembly on my behalf. I would, however, like to make one request. As you graciously honor me today with your polite presence, then I hope you also remember to honor yourselves. Here are some of suggestions:
Love and respect your parents and grandparents.
Respect and trust your teachers.
Be kind to and considerate of your schoolmates and mind your manners.
Defend what is right, fair and just.
Object to that which is wrong, unfair and unjust.
Never accept guilt for any act of wrongdoing, real or perceived, for which you were not
 personally responsible.
Think for yourself.
Work hard.
Willingly embrace new-found knowledge by weaving it into the fabric of established
Learn something new every day.
Take pleasure in each and every task you perform.
Take pride in each and every task you complete.
Smile often as it is the healthy and natural way to feel better.

I have made many personal and professional acquaintances during my fifteen year tenure at John Dewey High School. The teachers, administrators, secretaries, paraprofessionals and other support staff here are, without exception, some of the finest people I have ever met. It has been a pleasure working alongside them in common cause. Two of these acquaintances, however, deserve special mention. Their contributions to our school community are beyond measure. Their classroom successes are the stuff of pedagogical legend. Their devotion to the highest standard of educational practice and student performance inspires students and colleagues alike. I am proud to have served with them, I am eternally grateful for their support, and I am thankful for their confidence. I wish to recognize Ms. Lisa Scacalossi, who nominated me for the Sloan Award, and Mr. Zane Jacobs, Scientia Laureatus, both of John Dewey High School's Science Department. We three are kindred spirits. They have always been a source of encouragement and have never refused to share generously and unconditionally their time, interest, and energy. Thank you, both, for being my friends.

God Bless you all.

Thank you.

Acceptance Speech
Recessional Music
Link to Video Presented at Cooper Union
Photographed by Michael A. Klimetz

Honored Guest:

Mr. Barry Fried

John Dewey High School
Photographed by Michael A. Klimetz

Honored Guest:

Ms. Honora Dash

Assistant Principal
Science Department
John Dewey High School
Photographed by Michael A. Klimetz

Honored Guest:

Mr. Zane Jacobs

Teacher of Regents Chemistry and Advanced Placement Chemistry
Science Department
John Dewey High School
Photographed by Honora Dash

Honored Guests:

Ms. Stephanie C. Klimetz and Mr. Michael A. Klimetz