05/07/16 9:00am
05/07/2016 9:00 AM


When she died at age 59 in 2010, Carol Pufahl left a legacy that included a love not only of reading and writing, but of teaching essential skills.

On last Friday, that legacy was put into action at Riverhead Free Library, where El Dia de los Niños (The Day of the Children), which takes place annually at libraries nationwide, received an added boost thanks in large part to the Carol Pufahl Literacy Foundation. READ

02/22/16 6:00am


When Cecilia Stevens was 14 years old, she did what many young teenage girls do. She followed her older sister’s example, which meant joining the Summer Exploration cosmetology program at Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Riverhead. READ

03/10/15 8:00am
03/10/2015 8:00 AM
Culinary instructor Eric Rickmers talk to the new students in the commercial kitchen Monday afternoon. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Culinary instructor Eric Rickmers talks to the new students in the Riverhead school’s commercial kitchen Monday afternoon. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Monday marked the first day in a new Riverhead school for a small group of teens living in a country still very new to them.

At the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Alternative High School English Language Learner Program, teenagers referred to as SIFE students — or students with interrupted formal education — will learn English and math and acquire job skills such as culinary arts and maintenance work, BOCES officials said. (more…)

09/15/14 12:50pm
09/15/2014 12:50 PM
Andrew Hubner of Shoreham-Wading River High School, physics teacher Andrew Kolchin, Asia McElroy from Riverhead High School and former Riverhead High School student Phil Becker of Bay Shore do some experiments with Newtown's Cradle Friday at BOCES' new Regional STEM high school in Bellport. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Andrew Hubner of Shoreham-Wading River High School, physics teacher Andrew Kolchin, Asia McElroy from Riverhead High School and former Riverhead High School student Phil Becker of Bay Shore do some experiments with Newton’s Cradle Friday at BOCES’ new Regional STEM high school in Bellport. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

How often do high school graduates wonder how they will ever use the things they learned in high school once they get into the “real world?”

For Andrew Hubner of Shoreham, at least, that’s not a question right now.

The Shoreham-Wading River High School junior is one of seven students from eastern Suffolk County who are attending the county’s first high school focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics — otherwise known as a STEM school.

“I’m hoping to get into chemical engineering because that’s my passion, and I’m hoping to build a good foundation for when I go off to college,” said Andrew.

Eastern Suffolk BOCES opened its first regional STEM high school — open to students throughout the region — this fall at its Gary Bixhorn Technical Center in Bellport.

The opening comes in the wake of steps being taken across the country to improve America’s educational standing on the global stage in scientific fields.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the nation ranks 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations. And while only  16 percent of high school seniors are interested in a STEM career, the DOE reports, science-based careers are among the most expected to increase through 2020.

The White House issued a 143-page report in May of last year detailing continued efforts to increase STEM funding through a variety of channels, namely the federal government’s Race to the Top program as well as efforts to hire and re-educate the nation’s K-12 science and math teachers. And last week, state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) was on hand to issue a $100,000 check from New York State.

The Gary Bixhorn Tech Center only has 7 students in its first year, in part because the funding for it didn’t arrive until July, by which time most students had already set their schedule for this semester, physics teacher Edward Moloney said. In addition, this first year is only eligible for high school juniors, whereas next year and in subsequent years, the school will have juniors and seniors.

The students can still participate in sports, graduation and other programs at their home districts.

Pooling regional resources for the select group who decide to take the STEM curriculum opens doors for the students and school districts alike, said Riverhead Assistant Superintendent for curriculum and instruction David Wicks.

“That’s the beauty of this type of program,” he said. “With just two kids, it’s not feasible for us to do this in-house. But with a regional program, you can support the program.”

All school districts in the region pay into the administrative budget for Eastern Suffolk BOCES, and only districts with students participating in the STEM school pay, on a per pupil basis.

Mr. Moloney’s classroom has a 3D printer, where students can design objects on the computer and then see them actually built on the 3D printer. The printer had made a working, adjustable wrench in a prior demonstration, Andrew said.

There’s also a wind tunnel in the class, where students will design a turbine and then be graded on which turbine produced the most energy, and made the least noise, Mr. Moloney said. Also in the classroom is a solar-powered oven, capable of reaching temperatures as high as 350-degrees, he added.

In addition, engineering and architecture software such Auto CAD (computer aided design)

“The STEM high school is based on ‘Project Lead the Way’ engineering curriculum, which is a college-level curriculum that is being taught to high school students,” Mr. Moloney said.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that develops hands-on, project-based STEM curricula for use by schools.

As far as the course load goes, in their junior year, students will take four credits of Project Lead the Way engineering, along with algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus or AP Calculus; AP or Regents Physics; English 11; physical education and health; and U.S. History.

In their senior year, students will take four periods of PLTW engineering, an internship program, English, pre-calculus or AP calculus, AP or Regents chemistry, physical education and economics/government.

“When they finish this course, they will have skills that they can use in the real world engineering environment or they can choose to go on to college,” Mr. Moloney said, adding that college credits will be available to colleges such as Rochester Institute of Technology, among others.

Asia McElroy of Riverhead High School is hoping to get into the field of biomedical engineering, and she is also attending the STEM school.

“There’s a shortage of female engineers and I’ve heard companies are looking for more female engineers,” Asia said.

She’s also the only female in the engineering class. While the school only started on Sept. 1, she says, “I like it. It’s very direct.”

Schools like this could become the wave of the future, Mr. Moloney said.

“There’s a STEM shortage out there right now and it’s predicted that the STEM occupations will grow twice as fast as the rest of the industry, so it’s very relevant to the students now,” Mr. Moloney said.

The STEM school, held in a classroom that previous was used for a cosmetology class, has a number of Riverhead connections.

Mr. Wicks and former Riverhead assistant superintendent Peggy Staib, who is now an associate superintendent for the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, are the co-chairs of the STEM High School advisory board for BOCES, and Sam McAleese, the principal of Bixhorn Tech, is a former principal at the BOCES Harry B. Ward Technical Center in Riverhead.

Julie Lutz, Eastern Suffolk BOCES chief operating officer, confirmed that Mr. LaValle has stressed the need for such a school many times to them, and she’s happy to finally deliver.

“You watch something in the planning stages for so many, many months and then you actually see it come to fruition, it really is an amazing thing,” she said Friday.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that one student involved in the program is from Southold. One student from the district registered, though opted not to attend, according to a spokesperson.

02/15/14 11:00am
02/15/2014 11:00 AM
BOCES COURTESY PHOTO | Holding the big scissors is Sister Margaret Smyth of North Fork Spanish Apostolate at 220 Roanoke Ave. Riverhead.

BOCES COURTESY PHOTO | Holding the big scissors is Sister Margaret Smyth of North Fork Spanish Apostolate at 220 Roanoke Ave. Riverhead.

A new program in Riverhead is hoping to provide “a pathway out of poverty,” helping struggling Riverhead families and residents receive the education they need to get ahead.

Two weeks ago, Eastern Suffolk BOCES opened the doors to the state’s 51st Literacy Zone — a state-funded reform initiative aimed at aiding the community’s poorest — by helping residents gain English language proficiency.

Riverhead’s Literacy Zone, located at the North Fork Spanish Apostolate, will offer a variety of courses to meet the literacy needs of residents, from birth through adulthood.

The center will operate as a collaboration between ESBOCES staff, the Riverhead School District, Riverhead Library, Riverhead Senior Center and Suffolk County Department of Labor — just to name a few. Executive director and founder of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate, Sister Margret Smyth — well known for her commitment helping residents who struggle with English — will serve as an educator at the Literacy Zone.

As a matter of fact, Sister Margaret said, an employee funded through the program will operate out of the Apostolate, located at 220 Roanoke Ave.

Though the employee hasn’t started working full-time yet, Sister Margaret said about 20 people have still signed up for the Literacy Zone courses.

“The idea behind it is to really offer a service for people, particularly in language, and our office usually has tons of people going through here” who could use those services, she said.

Classes will include everything from after-school enrichment programs for children to workforce development programs that include work site tours, job shadowing, internships and apprenticeship opportunities for adults.

The framework enables multiple local outreach groups to reduce duplication of services and enhance and expand supportive services to help residents overcome barriers, according to Barbara Egloff, who serves as divisional administrator of career, technology, and adult education for ESBOCES.

“We are looking forward to working with Sister Margret,” ESBOCES spokesperson Nancy Lenz. “She is a staple in this community.”

The center is expected to grow its resources and expand by the start of next school year, Ms. Lenz said.

“We are just getting started,” she said.

12/04/13 4:00pm
12/04/2013 4:00 PM


Eastern Suffolk BOCES has launched a new department that aims to better prepare students for the future and will also open a regional high school in Bellport which students interested in studying the sciences can attend starting next school year.

The Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, known as “The Academy,” is a “transformation” of the career and technical education department at ESBOCES, officials said in a press release issued Tuesday. Its programs are offered to more than 1,700 students in 51 school districts and is designed to help students with college and career preparation and readiness, officials said.

Engineering, advanced manufacturing and veterinary technician courses have been added to next year’s class offerings. ESBOCES currently offers more than 30 classes in career trades and about 20 exploratory programs for students in grades 8 through 10 during the summer months.

The Academy’s programs are offered at the Brookhaven Technical Center in Bellport, the Edward J. Milliken Technical Center in Oakdale, the H.B. Ward Technical Center in Riverhead, and the Suffolk Aviation Center in Shirley.

In addition to launching The Academy, ESBOCES will also open its new STEM-based high school at its Bellport campus next school year that will have a concentration on engineering and applied science. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The school also is partnering with SUNY Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Labs, as well as the Long Island Matrix of Science and Technology and the Long Island STEM Hub, to develop the high school curriculum.

Last year, ESBOCES commissioned a 25-member task force to draft new programing that would meet the needs of high school students preparing for college or careers.

“We listened to students and parents and believe a newly-focused college, career and technical education-based curriculum will fill a void that has been missing in Suffolk County,” said Julie Lutz, ESBOCES deputy superintendent of educational services. “The ultimate goal is to close the gap between rigorous, relevant, STEM-based skills now necessary for success in college and the traditional academic coursework that is currently being offered at the high school level.”

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