Now educators seeking best-practice guidance to go all digital can do so by clicking an online article written Frank Portanova, Stepinac's Vice Principal, who led the school's groundbreaking technology initiative.
In the article, 3 Secrets to a Successful Digital Transformation written for eSchoolNews.com, the online resource about how educators are using technology to advance learning, Portanova shares the valuable lessons his school learned in creating a fully digital text book library comprising more than 40 academic textbooks.
"This transformation has driven efficiencies in our school, created a more personalized learning environment for our students and, most important, positively impacted student outcomes," Portanova wrote. He added:"In just one year of becoming all digital, the Stepinac academic probation rate was cut in half.
Portanova shared insights about Stepinac's experience in three categories. Following are highlights:
1. Transformation does not happen overnight. "Creating an all-digital institution simply does not --; and cannot --; happen overnight. In fact, the complete digital transformation here at Stepinac took more than three years from our first test run of digital texts and platforms to the full implementation of the digital library."
2. Digital infrastructure must support the transformation
"A school cannot become al digital without the correct infrastructure and technical support in place. Transitioning from a few computer labs to having 700 students plus administrators online all day requires a major increase in bandwidth, including wireless access points in every classroom and throughout the school." Portanova noted that there "are many steps to this process, the most important of which is choosing a trusted education technology provider. Working with Pearson, we first introduced digital texts as an alternative to standard print textbooks. At the same time, we began deploying innovative digital coursework and assessment platforms, such as SuccessNet and MyLabs, creating a hybrid-learning environment for our students."
3. Teacher and student training and buy-in is key
"Lastly, to ensure optimal learning outcomes, it's important that administrators and teachers are all on board for the transformation, and that teachers and students understand how to use the technology."
For the complete article, click
3 Secrets to a Successful Digital Transformation
About Archbishop Stepinac High School
The mission of Archbishop Stepinac High School is to offer young men of the Archdiocese of New York a highly competitive academic and extracurricular program that will prepare them for college and leadership roles. The faculty and staff accomplish these objectives by pursuing excellence and creating a supportive, disciplined atmosphere with a strong sense of camaraderie and Christian values that is unique to the Stepinac experience. For more information, visit www.Stepinac.org.]]>
Hosted by the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, Barefoot Dancing has brought different kinds of dance instruction and performance to the Bronx for the last two decades. The program, which moved from Wave Hill to the borough's biggest park six years ago to accommodate growing interest, invites people to kick off their shoes and enjoy an evening of dancing and live music while the sun sets.
"It's a little fun, a little bit of culture in the neighborhood," said attendee Elizabeth Dworakowsi. "My favorite was the Israeli dance last year, and I love the salsa."
With a rotating array of styles every summer, last Thursday night focused on west African dance. While families set up blankets on a lawn near the Van Cortlandt House Museum, Ms. Calder and her daughter, Crytal El, began their lively instruction with some basic moves. Ms. Calder said her daughter is her "favorite dance partner."
Another of Ms. Calder's family members, Desmond Powers, played one drum while their close friend Phillip Williamson played another. Their group is called Indigo Arts, and describes itself as a family-based company providing music, dance and storytelling based on African tradition.
"We're so lucky to have Caren Calder here," said Margot Perron, president of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, who started Barefoot Dancing. "She just has terrific creativity. It's been very exciting partnering with Lotus.
Lotus Music and Dance, which Ms. Calder has been affiliated with since 1997, holds multiple ethnic dance classes in their midtown studio. Their partnership with Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy has brought even more dance teachers and styles into the mix.West African dance was the second barefoot event so far this summer, with Balkan Dance taking over the lawn two weeks ago. Barefoot dancing has three more Thursdays left this year: Tahitian on July 24, Middle Eastern on the 31st and salsa dancing with a group called Retumba! on Aug. 7.
"It always rains when Retumba! comes," Ms. Perron said. "Three years ago it rained at the beginning, two years ago in the middle and last year at the very end. Let's hope it holds off this year!"
Many families come for every Barefoot Dancing session and have been doing so for years. Jelet Casimiro, who was a first-timer, said she loved it and would keep attending.
"It's just a great environment for the kids to run around," she remarked.
Her son Miguel, 3, said he liked the dancing but was ready to play. He split off with other children, who were enjoying the open air, playing soccer or finding ladybugs. As the night went on, many attendees who had not been dancing the whole time were drawn in by Ms. Calder's infectious energy. Some joined while others took a seat on the lawn to watch.
After a little over an hour of practice, young and old alike seemed to have the moves down. A closing dance circle gave a chance for attendees to show off what they had learned.
As the sun began to set after 8 p.m., Ms. Calder led the group in a closing ritual.
"It's even more important because we are in nature," she announced, asking everyone to rub their palms together, clap 11 times and then "throw your net into the universe. Share this beautiful energy with the earth."
Toddlers, teenagers and parents all opened their arms wide, sweaty and laughing. Children danced on their parents' feet. Two little girls wore pink ballerina skirts. Not a single frown was visible on the lawn.
After Ms. Calder's joyful closing ritual, families packed up their blankets and picnics and pulled their shoes back on. The lightning bugs were just coming out. Ms. Perron made some closing announcements and remarks, ending with, "We are all better people for Caren Calder and family."]]>
On the afternoon of July 18, he approached at least two men on Johnson Avenue, pretended to recognize them and asked them for money. One of the victims gave Tony $8, although a shop owner says he has observed the con artist talk larger sums out of Riverdalians.
A resident and the shop owner, John McKeon, say they have observed Tony perform his act for at least 10 years, but that authorities have never to their knowledge intervened.
Last Friday, Tony apparently used his act on Rene Rodriguez, 73, at the corner of Johnson Avenue and West 230th Street.
Mr. Rodriguez says Tony struck up a conversation with him and asked the victim who his "favorite black person" was. When Mr. Rodriguez named an acquaintance, Tony reportedly replied, "That's my mother!"
After Tony said he was out of gas and asked for money, Mr. Rodriguez, of West 236th Street, gave him several dollars.
When a reporter who observed the exchange approached the duo, Tony said he was not a con artist and quickly walked away.
Mr. Rodriguez was initially in disbelief when he heard that others in the neighborhood have accused Tony of being a con artist.
"I gave it to him on account that I know his mother for more than 30 years," Mr. Rodriguez said. "He knows me, because I used to visit his mother in Brooklyn."
After another pedestrian, Saul Markowicz, joined the exchange and explained that Tony has previously accosted him, too, Mr. Rodriguez promised to call his acquaintance on Monday and ask her if Tony is her son. On that day, Mr. Rodriguez reported that the woman had denied Tony was her child.
Moments before Tony approached Mr. Rodriguez, the scammer asked another man on Johnson Avenue for money.
Elliott Schonfeld, 57, said Tony struck up a conversation, asked him "who his favorite black co-worker" was and then claimed to be that person's brother. Mr. Schonfeld then said he did not have any money and Tony left.
Tony called the reporter shortly after the exchanges. Asked whether he is a con artist, he replied, "That's life."
"It's better than putting a gun to somebody's head and taking their money," he added before hanging up.
Hard to prosecute
Mr. McKeon, who owns John's Botany Bay Fine Flowers & Gifts, located at 3611 Riverdale Ave., said he has previously called the police to alert them to Tony's activities, but was told there is nothing they can do unless someone files a complaint.
A spokesman for the 50th Precinct confirmed that unless a victim files a harassment report against Tony, there is nothing the authorities can do. Officer Steven Cordero added that it has been years since the city considered aggressive panhandling illegal.
"I would say it's definitely a con, but if they're willing to give him money, these people are just being too nice," Officer Cordero said of Tony's scheme.
However, the officer added he would seek to find the con artist so he could admonish him.
Mr. McKeon said he has seen Tony approach hundreds of people, most of them elderly men, over the years. He estimated about one-quarter of the victims give Tony money.
"Some of these people are on Social Security. They're on limited incomes," Mr. McKeon said. "They feel bad for him -- and they're going without a meal, maybe."
Earlier this month, a retired police officer told The Press a con artist fitting the same description as Tony had unsuccessfully asked him for money. The incident took place on Riverdale Avenue near West 260th Street. Another con artist has been reported as working on Broadway near West 240th Street.
Ret. Officer Ed Keane advised residents to avoid conversations with strangers, stay in a public place once an encounter is over and inform the police of such incidents.
Mr. Markowicz, 90, said Tony has approached him dozens of times over the years, often failing to recognize his would-be victim. Mr. Markowicz said he recently warned a man Tony had lead to an ATM to withdraw money for Tony as to who the con artist was.
Employees at the Chase and Wells Fargo banks on Riverdale Avenue said they were unaware of any scammers in the area.
Mr. Markowicz said he has stood his ground against Tony.
"I see what's going on every day with this guy," he said. "I'm a Holocaust survivor -- five years in a concentration camp -- that's why I'm so street smart."]]>
A series of monotypes depicting different views of the castle won her a Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) award for artistic excellence from the Bronx Council on the Arts earlier this year.
During a recent visit to her West 259th Street home studio, Ms. Murray explained that the series is both a personal expression and a meditation on space.
The artist's husband comes from the same region as the castle. After a first visit to the site in 1984, she found the building in largely the same condition on a trip in 2010.
"Over time, layers of meaning and interest start to become [apparent] to you," said Ms. Murray, 63. "Many things had changed, but the castle itself was very much the same way." None of her black-and-white monotypes of Slains Castle show the structure in its entirety. Instead, the images focus on various angles that a person might see while walking in and around the building.
Three of the monotypes take the viewer further and further down a shadowy corridor. The effect is similar to zooming in on a camera. But while in the first image, a hallway and pools of light are recognizable, by the third one, details have faded away and the work has a highly abstract quality reminiscent of a minimalist mural.
"As the visual cues sort of fall away, you can't read what it is in terms of subject matter and you're left more with shapes, colors, values -- the more abstract elements," the artist said.
Ms. Murray, who teaches design and other art classes at Bronx Community College, said photo realists in vogue during her undergraduate days remain a strong influence on her own work. She based the monotypes in her series, called Approaching Slains Castle, on photos she took of the site.
"Some of my professors were photo realists and my bent was realism," she said. "It was a way to sort of theoretically be allowed to work in realism at that point."
Making prints from scratch enabled Ms. Murray to play with shapes and light in a different way than her camera allowed.
"There's an interest in this kind of play back and forth between this illusion of space and the surface that you're working on and an awareness of the materials you're working on and in some ways letting that process of work show in the work," she said.
While her pieces have a cool, intellectual feel, she said some of them are designed to evoke warm thoughts of home. Several of the images focus on an empty stone window frame, cropped so it looks like a miniature house.
"Another kind of compelling image I think can be called the house-shaped house," Ms. Murray said. "[There's] this sort of comfort. Even though there's this grand manor, there's a number of structures that evoke a series of little house-shaped spaces that somehow are very appealing."
Ms. Murray has not finished working on Slains Castle yet. She is currently making a monotype triptych of the ruins. Bright greens and blues in that work in progress make for a stark contrast with Approaching Slains Castle.
Ms. Murray has also depicted a number of famous sites in the Bronx. Her watercolor paintings of the Henry Hudson Bridge, Wave Hill and other locations incorporate the same kind of unusual angles she uses in Approaching Slains Castle.
The artist said her encounters with the castle inspired her to read Dracula. While she said she could not see the ruins as the setting of a gothic tale, it is easy to imagine a vampire lurking somewhere inside her "house-shaped house."
We're profiling all 10 BRIO winners from the northwest Bronx. Here are the other artists we've met so far:Riverdale actress wins BRIO, three NY Emmys
Poet sings of sensual scenes from Riverdale to Reykjavik
Tallerman takes on big topics in short stories
Bassoon is way of life for local BRIO winner]]>
Earlier this month, residents reported learning that Montefiore is shrinking its controversial project to a six-story, 77,000-square-foot building during a closed-door meeting with representatives from the hospital and the Simone Development Companies, which plan to build the site for Montefiore.
While CB 8 is on a summer hiatus, the Land Use Committee called a special meeting for Montefiore to present its latest plans. But on Sunday, a Montefiore executive asked committee Chairman Charles Moerdler to push the session back to September, saying they still need time to complete their plans.
"We are working around-the-clock to finalize and look forward to sharing the revised plans and a full picture of the services," the hospital said in a statement.
However, some activists wondered whether the meeting was really postponed so state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein, who has taken a strong stance against Montefiore's plans, can avoid further pressure from the community before the Tuesday, Sept. 9 primary vote. He is facing a serious challenge from former Councilman Oliver Koppell.
"We don't think this adjournment is anything but a cynical attempt to put it past the primaries and help to dilute the continued strong opposition of the community," said Stuart Gartner, a Riverdale lawyer and co-organizer of an informal group opposed to Montefiore's plans.
Other residents who attended the recent, closed-door meeting with Montefiore and Simone representatives were more circumspect.
"I don't know if the motivation was to push this past the primary or not," said Mark Gothelf. "That is obviously on a lot of people's minds. It would be even more incumbent on [Montefiore] to demonstrate that that was not the reason."
Mr. Moerdler rejected the notion that politics were at play.
"I have no interest at all in connection with the senate primary," he said. "My interest and the board's interest is what's good for the neighborhood."
Earlier this year, Mr. Klein and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz took the unprecedented step of targeting Montefiore with legislation creating a state Department of Health (DOH) review process for ambulatory centers like the one proposed for Riverdale Avenue near the intersection with West 238th Street.
The law would apply to facilities more than three stories tall or covering more than 30,000 square feet. Montefiore's original plans called for an 11-story, 95,000-square-foot, multi-use facility. Earlier this month, residents reported the health care provider has shrunk its project to have a ground floor, three stories of parking and two stories providing health services on top.
Montefiore also claimed the new plan is not subject to the DOH review, according to the activists, although the hospital declined to confirm or deny the account.
Residents said they were outraged at the alleged attempt to circumvent the review. Mr. Klein and Mr. Dinowitz initially said they were not sure whether the review would apply. But in a Monday e-mail, Mr. Klein gave a statement suggesting Montefiore's latest reported plans will be subject to the lengthy new process, which starts with the DOH and includes the local community board.
"My reading of my law says that it does apply," Mr. Klein stated. "Three stories is three stories. Community leaders, myself and fellow elected officials are reviewing their proposal. We have questions we expect Montefiore to answer."
Nevertheless, Mr. Koppell joined critics who speculated the latest scheduled meeting was cancelled in order to help Mr. Klein.
He pointed out a July 19 New York Observer report finding the senator had received $10,000 in campaign contributions from an affiliate of Simone, a longtime financial supporter of Mr. Klein. (Find NYO's follow-up story here.)
"I think he was embarrassed by it and I think he heard I was going to come to this meeting and he told Montefiore they should postpone it until after the primary," Mr. Koppell said.
A Klein spokeswoman strongly rejected the charge.
"His challenger likes to criticize donations from Joseph Simone, who has donated to his campaigns for over a decade and who is developing the Montefiore property, but there is no better example of Senator Klein [fighting] for what is right for his constituents regardless of campaign donations," Candice Giove said in an e-mail. "Senator Klein authored a law that limits the size and scope of Mr. Simone's project and that costs Mr. Simone money every day because Senator Klein's community comes first."
Several anti-Montefiore activists said the latest donation from the Simone affiliate, called Hutch Metro Center 1 LLC, had raised their eyebrows.
"It's obviously causing a lot of concern for a lot of people," said Mr. Gothelf. "I need to understand more about it."
Others involved in the effort to block Montefiore and Simone's plans here praised Mr. Klein's handling of the situation so far.
"I have never seen Senator Klein make any decision that was related to a donor. I just haven't," said Steven Benardo.]]>
The lots at 3190 and 3198 Cambridge Ave. have suffered from neglect since houses there were demolished about a decade ago. Neighbors have observed people dumping garbage onto the latter property through a hole in a fence.
The garbage has even begun to spill over onto the sidewalk outside of 3198 Cambridge Ave. One resident says he has seen families walk in the middle of the street to avoid the filth.
There is less litter at 3910 Cambridge Ave., but plywood boards protecting the site have broken down and lean onto the neighboring property. 3910 Cambridge Ave. has also been a magnet for graffiti.
According to the Department of Buildings website, the body has issued various violations to the owners of both properties over the past several years, including not maintaining the construction fence around the property, and performing construction without proper permits.
A spokesman for Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said he was aware of the problem on Cambridge Avenue, but that the official has not received any complaints recently.
SENIORS: The Riverdale Y's Simon Senior Center is open to all adults over age 60. The center serves a hot kosher lunch daily and offers a wide variety of educational, social and recreational activities. In addition, members enjoy lectures, trips, concerts and holiday events. A monthly calendar of events is available at the Y, 5625 Arlington Ave. Registration is held Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. Call 718-548-8200.]]>
The July 17 Living cover story, "Students follow in Washington's steps at Van Cortlandt House," identified Michael Grillo as a tour guide. His title is museum educator.]]>
Mr. Schumer decried what he called a double standard of judging Israel during a Sunday event at the 92nd Street Y, which Rep. Eliot Engel, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Consul General of Israel Ido Aharoni and other officials also attended.
"Too many in the world and even here in the U.S. practice a double standard, a moral equivalence -- 'Oh, both sides are in the wrong'," Mr. Schumer said. "We are here to fight that equivalency because every nation faced with what Israel has faced would do the same thing."
Israel recently launched a mission to destroy tunnels in Gaza that it says enable militants to receive supplies and attack Israel. As of Tuesday, more than 500 Palestinians and 25 Israeli soldiers had been killed, according to The New York Times, which is tracking casualties in the grinding conflict.
Mr. Stringer called for people to both support Israel and debate about the conflict in the region.
Mr. Engel attended the 92nd Street Y rally and a spontaneous pro-Israel event at Times Square on Sunday. He vowed that Congress will support Israel as it continues its campaign targeting the Palestinian group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
Mr. Engel also spoke in support of Israel on the steps of City Hall earlier this month alongside officials including Mr. Cohen. Mr. Cohen took a somewhat different tone than Mr. Engel and Mr. Schumer, who have criticized people who have pointed out the disproportionate number of casualties between the two sides.
"With increased violence and rising death tolls in Israel, I stand with advocates and my colleagues in government to call for the end to these hostilities," Mr. Cohen said in a statement after the City Hall event. "One life taken is one too many."
Meanwhile, Riverdale's prominent Rabbi Avi Weiss has gone on a solidarity visit to Israel, where he has a grandson in the army.
"Israel's enemy is the enemy of the world. Hamas is working to take down international flights - this is the enemy of the Western World," Rabbi Weiss said in an e-mail statement. "Israel is the good guys fighting an evil enemy."
Campaign finance feud
State Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein and his challenger Oliver Koppell have begun attacking each other for their campaign finance disclosures earlier this month.
Mr. Koppell held a press conference outside the Real Estate Board of New York in Manhattan on Sunday to decry Mr. Klein's campaign war chest as a "cesspool of special interests."
The senator reported raising a whopping $892,011.68 during the first six months of the year, bringing his coffers' closing balance to just over $2 million as of July 15.
Mr. Koppell raised $123,801.46, giving him just over $100,000 in cash on hand.
The challenger said most of his donations came in sums under $250, but that nearly three-quarters of the donors to Mr. Klein were what Mr. Koppell called corporate sources, including the real estate industry.
"Obviously, we expect people who have an interest in government to make contributions," Mr. Koppell said. "But when it becomes so dominant, it distorts a legislator's priorities."
"It becomes crystal clear why Klein straddled the fence between Democrats and Republicans in our State Senate," Mr. Koppell said in a statement alluding to Mr. Klein's previous ruling coalition with senate Republicans. "In swinging with the political winds, Klein became the state's largest collection agency."
A Klein spokeswoman rejected the charges.
"Senator Klein always puts the interests of his community first and to suggest otherwise is simply a desperate attack by a challenger who has no support from the Democratic Party, from Mayor Bill de Blasio, from Governor Andrew Cuomo or other party loyalists," Candice Giove said in an e-mail. "Senator Klein has a stellar voting record on tenants' rights."
Mr. Klein's campaign did not answer an earlier question asking if it takes exception with any of the contributions to Mr. Koppell. But the senator's campaign castigated Mr. Koppell for filing his disclosure form to the State Board of Elections (SBOE) after the July 15 deadline.
"On the campaign trail Mr. Koppell talks about campaign finance reform, a measure which Senator Klein continues to tirelessly advocate for in the State Senate, and yet, he cannot follow the rules of our current system," the senator's campaign said in an e-mail statement. "Mr. Koppell should be fined."
Mr. Koppell's wife, Lorraine Coyle Koppell, said the campaign filed its disclosure reporter to the SBOE on July 15 at 8 p.m. But she said after the board told the campaign it could not open an attachment containing the report, the campaign tried again and again to send it until it finally worked on July 18.
"This attack is absurd," Mr. Koppell said. "If this is the best they have, good, bring it on."
Cabrera's funds in question
Councilman Fernando Cabrera's quiet campaign made headlines for the first time in weeks when a blog of The New York Daily News reported on Tuesday he had applied $33,000 from his city campaign funds to his race to unseat state Sen. Gustavo Rivera.
The outlet reported that the transfer included $23,000 in matching funds from the city, which election rules bar Mr. Cabrera from rerouting to his senate run.
A spokesman for Mr. Cabrera's campaign said in an e-mail the move was "a result of not fully understanding our city's campaign finance guidelines" and promised the discrepancy "will be rectified immediately."]]>
Her childhood and youth were troubled and difficult: poverty, a terribly cruel father, lifelong sadness from age 16 due to the death of her mother and her 60-year struggle with diabetes that began at age 25. More than enough to make one bitter, cynical, withdrawn or pessimistic -- but Ms. Schweitzer was none of these.
Rather, she was known for a sunny disposition and being friendly, outgoing, exceptionally sociable and communicative, buoyant and always ready with an engaging smile, a dash of wit and humor. Ms. Schweitzer beat all the odds and led a truly valiant life thanks to her capacity to rise above adversity.
A new chapter in her life began when she met her second husband, Professor Frederick M. Schweitzer, at Manhattan College, where she was a secretary. They married in 1991. She became his assistant and partner in preparing his research and publications on Jewish history, the Holocaust, the rebirth of Israel and anti-Semitism.
She loved to travel and they journeyed widely to participate in scholarly conferences, but also to visit relatives and historic sites and enjoy art, music and theatre -- all over the United States and Canada and Europe.
Ms. Schweitzer had a fine singing voice and one time aspired to a musical career, but as she wistfully recalled, there was no money for singing lessons. In retirement, the couple compensated for their deprivation as "Depression Babies," joining theatre clubs and the opera guild and devoting many an evening to drama, musicals, dance, opera and so on.
Some of their happiest moments were dressing up to the nines, driving down to the Lincoln Center and dining sumptuously in the Grand Tier at the Met, followed by choice seats for the opera, ballet or the revival of South Pacific. Music was the one thing Ms. Schweitzer was able to enjoy almost to the end of her life.
She is survived by her loving husband, Frederick, daughter, Elyse Jenkins, and stepson Manfred.
Rabbi Stephen Franklin conducted the funeral service on Monday at the Riverdale Temple, followed by graveside prayers and burial in King David Memorial Gardens in Putnam Valley. Funeral Arrangements were under the direction of Louis Hirsch & Sons Funeral Directors, 14 Lecount Pl., New Rochelle, New York.
Donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.]]>
A World War II veteran and avid amateur photographer, Mr. Masters was a member of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church for over 50 years. He leaves behind his wife of 57 years, Lillian; son Ted and daughter-in-law Carol; daughter Betsy and son-in-law George; and grandchildren Michael, William, Dylan and Aurelia.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Riverdale Presbyterian Church, followed by interment in the church's bell tower. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Suzy Masters Fund, c/o the Riverdale Presbyterian Church.]]>