Written by The Levittown Tribune Staff Thursday, 27 March 2014 00:00
Two teachers in the Island Trees School District have been selected as the recipients of the Harvard Club’s “Distinguished Teacher of 2014 Award,” for their dedication as educators.
Lori Christensen has been an English teacher in the Island Trees School District for 17 years, and currently serves as Chairperson of her department. She proudly advises the National Honor Society, teaches The College Process, a senior elective and mentors new teachers.
Ms. Christensen describes herself as defined by the “three Rs: Running, Reading, and wRiting.” During the year, she is known for attracting teens, teachers, and friends alike for book chat; and during the summer enjoys jogging the Long Beach Boardwalk each day before relaxing with a good book.
Ms. Christensen has received the prestigious “Teacher of Excellence” award from the New York State English Council and, more importantly, received the first ever Teacher of the Year award at Island Trees High School.
Mr. Wagner, has taught all but one of his 22 years in the Island Trees district. He currently teaches Physical Setting Earth Science, a course he finds wonderfully stimulating. As the coach of the Island Trees Science Olympiad Team, he enjoys the variety of science that must be mastered, noting that some of what he teaches is college-level material.
An avid photographer of nature and wildlife, Wagner’s hobbies almost consume his interest as much as teaching does. From photographing glacial geology in Alaska to canyons and rock formations in Australia, he tries to use his photos to create memorable images for his students.
Both Christensen and Wagner were nominated for their awards by Kathryn J. Gundersen, a former Island Trees High School student who will graduate from Harvard College in June 2017.
Gundersen said that through the teachings of Mr. Wagner, she learned what it means to be passionate about your work.
“I’d never really considered science my ‘thing,’” Gundersen says, “but his passion was absolutely contagious. I can only hope to be as passionate about my future work as he is about his own.”
Both teachers exhibit a work ethic second to none, according to Elizabeth Roemer, the Island Trees School District Administrator for Educational Programs, Literacy, and Staff Development. Roemer has worked side by side with both Ms. Christensen and Mr. Wagner, over the past 25 years, and feels they are influential because they live their values.
“Lori leaves the building each day with her purple teaching bag slung on her shoulder, heavy with stacks of her students’ AP Language and Composition papers, current event article responses, and dialectical journals,” Roemer said. “Each night (and weekend) she works tirelessly to offer her students valuable feedback on their written analyses. And she expects the same from her students; just ask any of them, and they would be happy to tell you all about it.”
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00
A clown named Renaldo performed magic tricks for an enthusiastic audience as part of the National Circus Project, which visited Levittown Public Library on Wednesday, July 16.
All 150 tickets available for the performance were sold out in this interactive magic show for children. Throughout the entire circus act, children laughed and raised their hands as high as they could to be chosen as one of Renaldo’s helpers.
Raising her hand to participate was three-year-old Kirsten Cantwell from Seaford. “She was upset that she didn’t get picked,” said her mother Melissa Cantwell.
Kirsten Cantwell goes to any activity offered at the library, and is starting to enjoy watching magic shows. According to her mother, she really enjoyed the performance.
In the circus show, National Circus Project performer, Al Calienes, acted as Renaldo the clown.
“The show has different components of acts in the circus,” explained Calienes. “We teach children circus moves.”
With the National Circus Project, children get to see magic tricks performed live. “We infuse enthusiasm by showing them, and they in turn will be able to repeat the process,” said Calienes.
Renaldo performed plate spinning, where he spun a plate on a stick and passed it along to the stick of one of his helpers from the audience, who then passed the plate down a line of three more helpers. This interactive way of teaching the children magic tricks really allows them to absorb what they are learning.
The National Circus Project travels and performs for elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools. When the National Circus Project is not going to schools, they perform at library shows, summer camps, and other types of events.
The performance entertains the adults as well as the children. “We involve everybody,” said Calienes. “Everybody’s engaged on some level or another. “
At every library performance, Calienes donates the children’s book he wrote and illustrated Renaldo Joins the Circus to the library. He feels that he owes a lot to the library system. “Anything that ever meant anything to me I learned in the library,” said Calienes.
Calienes learned how to draw from the library, which is how he became a commercial artist. One of the main characters he would always draw would be Renaldo the clown. “I wanted to make him real so I joined the circus,” he said.
Calienes has been performing with the National Circus Project for seven years and has been in the circus business going on 26 years.
The National Circus Project brings magic to children at any school, camp or library all over Long Island as well as across the country.
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
Last June, Nassau County passed legislation that allows for the deployment of a speed enforcement camera system in school zones for each of the 56 public school districts in the county.
The new systems will be implemented throughout the county on July 25, and will be operational on scheduled school days throughout the year.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Levittown’s Division Avenue High School varsity baseball team, under the direction of coach Tom Tuttle, won the Class A County Championship, garnering a third-place ranking in New York State. This is the team’s 13th county championship win and the second county championship for the school in the past four years.
In addition, senior Chris Reilly was named Championship MVP for throwing a complete game shutout in game two and going three for four with two RBIs.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Taylor Traenkle, a junior at Division Avenue High School recently received the MVP award for the Nassau County Varsity Hockey League Association.
Traenkle, who plays no. 9 for the Levittown Ice Falcons, led the way averaging 2.8 points a game with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists in just 17 games.