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Thursday, November 4, 2021

NYCSchoolsTech Award Recipients 2021

 Congratulations to all winners! And to everyone who didn't win, as everyone is a winner who works with children on harnessing the power of technology.

Betsy Combier

President and Founder, ADVOCATZ
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials


This year’s #NYCSchoolsTech award recipients represent a diversity of grade levels, titles, subject areas, and boroughs. They were presented with the award at the annual #NYCSchoolsTech Summit on July 28, 2021. These staff members were recognized for their commitment to harnessing the power of technology to best serve students, staff, and families across New York City. 

Frances Amato

Ed Tech Model Teacher and Technology Coach, The David Marquis School of the Arts, Staten Island
Frances holds many roles in her school, including Ed Tech model teacher, technology coach, SPOC and website master. She believes technology will bridge the many gaps and deficits that many students currently face. Frances has provided professional development for technology for her entire organization over the past nine years, and she has supported the #NYCSchoolsTech community by providing professional development sessions during meetups. She has been a part of the Division of Instructional and Information Technology’s Insight Panels and is a lead contributor to EdTechU.

Robyn Bryant
Educator, Clara Barton High School, Brooklyn
Robyn has been a champion of technology at Clara Barton High School since her first day on the job. She spearheaded the professional development team and created and led trainings on multiple technology platforms for her fellow teachers, bringing clarity and transparency for teachers as to its uses in the classroom. As webmaster, she has grown Clara Barton High School’s social media presence and maintains the school’s website with a 5.0 Web Content Accessibility grade.

Josephine Coco 
Paraprofessional, PS 32, Staten Island
When the pandemic first hit, Josephine stepped up and became her school’s technology lead, SPOC, and webmaster. She trained staff, students, and families on how to use remote learning technology, and notably, created a digital library of tutorial videos, instructions, and more for the entire school community. Josephine also spearheaded the redesign of PS32’s website to be ADA-compliant. She was an EdTech Insights panelist, and created numerous turn-key professional development sessions for schools and paraprofessionals across her district.

Derek Cradle
Principal, High School Of Sports Management, Brooklyn
Under Derek’s leadership, HSSM has incorporated a computer science curriculum and program, launched a gamification laboratory, and designed a Sports Management Technology pathway for students. When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, Derek led a swift charge to make HSSM a 1:1 school and ensure students were able to learn from home. HSSM also partners with local universities and community-based organizations to teach students the technology skills they will need at the post-secondary level.

Michael D'Onofrio
Assistant Principal, PS 186, Brooklyn
Michael leverages Google Drive, ATS, and other DOE systems to create up-to-date analytics reports for teachers to help them differentiate learning more easily. He is always willing to try new technology platforms to help teachers engage students. Michael has implemented CS4All programs at his school, presented at various conferences and professional development sessions, and most recently, led a panel with other school and district leaders from around the country.

Zach Dane
Special Education Teacher, The Marie Curie High School for Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions, the Bronx
Zach has been instrumental in promoting the use of the DOE Google Workspace and DocuSign at the Marie Curie High School for Medicine. He has also created in-depth resources, and provided individualized support, for schools across the City that want to migrate to the DOE Google Workspace domain. Zach was also the driving force behind his school’s 1:1 device policy, which was critical to his school’s success in March 2020. Throughout his career, Zach has facilitated countless professional learning opportunities for his school and across New York City. 

Theresa DeMatteo
Tech Coordinator, SPOC, School Website Master, STARS Programmer, and Remote Learning Support, PS 401, Brooklyn
Theresa is a 17-year veteran educator at the DOE. In 2017, after years of advocating for technology as a way to bring equity and access to all learners, she became PS401’s technology cluster teacher. In this role, Theresa works closely with students, staff, and administrators to integrate digital literacy tools, apply the Computer Science curriculum, and share best practices around digital accessibility. Most recently she was a panelist and moderator for #NYCSchoolsTech Insight Panels. Theresa is currently pursuing her school building and school district leadership licenses, with the goal of becoming an instructional technology leader.

Stephanie Fermin
Speech Language Pathologist PS 811X, the Bronx
Stephanie co-created a space for related service providers to take part in #NYCSchoolsTech events and panels. She also led the D75 Assistive Technology team in managing remote procedures and creating a SharePoint site to host and broadcast information. Stephanie is also a proud Ed Tech U Content Creator and Influencer.

Lily Ho
CS4ALL Teacher, PS 133, Queens 
Lily has been an educator for 14 years. She has taught special education and currently teaches K-5 computer science. She is also a SPOC, an Amazon Future Engineers BootUp District Instructional Coach, a 2021 CS4ALL Blueprint Fellow, and CS4ALL Ingenuity Equity Lead Educator. Lily serves on the Content Advisory Panel for NYS Education Department's Computer Science and Digital Fluency Standards, as well as the elected K-5 CSTA NYC Chapter Teacher Leader. Lily presented on culturally responsive project-based learning at Georgia Tech's 2021 Constellations' Summit, and culturally responsive student leadership at CSTA's 2021 Conference.

Shiela Lee
STEM Teacher and SPOC, PS 59 Beekman Hill International School, Manhattan 
In addition to being a STEM teacher and SPOC, Shiela is also a Computer Science Teachers of America Equity Fellow and a Math for America Master Teacher. During the pandemic, she created and shared across the DOE a digital notebook for families and staff to navigate multiple digital learning platforms. Additionally, she invited speakers like Hadi Partovi (, Dr. Amy J. Ko (University of Washington), and Google cybersecurity engineers to speak to her students about algorithmic bias, LGBTQ+ visibility in STEM, and how to keep our digital spaces safe. Shiela also pioneered a 3D-printing curriculum this year, teaching her students how to express themselves through 3D printing. Shiela builds her curriculum around socially relevant issues and strives to be an inclusive, anti-racist educator.

Nick Marinacci
Deputy Superintendent, District 79, Citywide Alternative Schools
In 2018, Nick created a Think B.I.G. (Blended Learning, Interdisciplinary Classes, Google Tools) team for more than 50 teachers and leaders in District 79, so that they could become better at using instructional technology. This led to the creation of a D79 Google domain, web-based curriculum, and teacher resources, all of which helped D79 more easily transition to remote learning when COVID-19 hit. Nick also led a team to create secure remote learning for students in juvenile detention facilities during the pandemic. He visited Crossroads Juvenile Center every day from November 2020 through March 2021, to distribute Chromebooks and troubleshoot tech issues. Nick continues to help D79 leaders use technology to support teacher coaching and is a tireless advocate for technology and internet access for students in juvenile detention facilities and on Rikers Island.

Raphael Ortiz
Technology Specialist, MS 390, the Bronx
After 12 years at Apple Retail, Raphael joined the DOE in September 2018, where he manages all technology-related issues with hardware and software for his school. Raphael manages a fleet of more than 1,500 one-to-one devices, and specializes in Mac and Apple devices. He is also the Google Workspace administrator and webmaster. His colleagues enjoy how passionate he is about technology, and how he always takes his time to explain troubleshooting steps without using too much tech jargon. Most recently, Raphael co-facilitated a professional development session on how to reimage devices to the latest DOE macOS image.

Ernest Poole
STEM/Computer Science Teacher and SPOC, The Abigail Adams Elementary School, Queens
In his 20 years at the DOE, Ernest has served in nearly every educator role, from paraprofessional to classroom teacher to instructional coach. As a STEM and CS educator, Ernest’s passion is to develop science and instructional technology literacy within teachers, teacher educators, and elementary school students. He is an integral part of DIIT’s Google Workspace migration team, a regular contributor to EdTechU, a member of the DocuSign kickoff team, and a previous #NYCSchoolsTechSummit speaker. Ernest holds a doctorate in Urban Education from CUNY.

Melissa Stark
SPOC, Special Education and Ed Tech Model Teacher, P94M, Manhattan
Melissa provides support to students, staff, and families on how to use and adapt technology to meet their individual needs. She is focused on helping students get their communication needs met and is an advocate for students' voices being heard in any form in the classroom and community. Melissa’s goal is to help individuals to be independent with the use of technology. As part of P94M's Tech Team, she created a Digital Citizenship Curriculum to focus on student, family, and staff needs. She has also been a moderator for the Ed Tech Insights Panels.

Cindy Wong
Technology Teacher, PS 41, Queens
Cindy believes all students should have digital access and lessons on computational thinking, digital applied skills, and digital citizenship. She has introduced and taught CS4All curriculum to her students at PS41Q. As a Google Workspace Admin, Cindy managed a local domain and assisted schools in migration to the DOE domain. Cindy is also an Ed Tech Model Teacher, Certified Google Trainer, and Google Innovator. She has led professional learnings around technology tools, contributed to Ed Tech U, and presented at NYCSchoolsTech Summit,  ISTE19, CS4All Teacher Summit, CSTA, and NYC GEG.