John F. Kennedy School fourth grade teachers Karla Purcell, Kate Albero and Jenn Curti hold their 2014 Pioneer Awards.
John F. Kennedy School fourth grade teachers Karla Purcell, Kate Albero and Jenn Curti hold their 2014 Pioneer Awards.
Three enthusiastic fourth grade teachers at John F. Kennedy Magnet School won the 2014 Pioneer Award-Special Recognition for Collaborative and Innovative Initiatives. The Lower Hudson Regional Information Center (LHRIC) presented the award to Jennifer Curti, Kate Albero and Karla Purcell on May 9 in Briarcliff Manor.

The award recognizes the work these teachers have done in integrating digital storytelling and student digital literacy projects with JFK's Community Garden after school program.

"This distinction is a reflection of our hopes, dreams, vision, and partnerships. JFK's Pioneer Award is about a body of work that tells a wonderful story about our school, community, and promise for the future of life science education at JFK," said Principal Lou Cuglietto.

Students were also given the opportunity to experience the benefits of sustainability and learn over time where good food comes from and how to prepare it, thanks to the school's collaboration with Whole Foods and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. IBM, the Verizon Foundation, the Tamarack Tower Foundation and the Coalition of Community Services are some of the major contributors to the success of the community garden.

To integrate the important elements of nutrition, technology, science and sustainability into projects that today's digital natives would enjoy, the JFK team turned to Aaron Mace from the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. Together, the teachers and Mace worked with the students to create a strong digital literacy component in the form of video documentaries that followed the students' work in the garden.

Video devices were carefully chosen by the teachers to make sure they would accurately capture the students' experiences. With flip cameras, iPads and other devices in hand, the children set out to document their journey and in the process learned not just about gardening but about the creative process of filmmaking and about state-of-the-art editing technology.