The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.
Barbara Algarin, Freeport Public Schools, Freeport, NY
Barbara Algarin was a chemistry major who also tutored other students in chemistry while in college and afterwards. “I had always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but I felt I was good at helping others in school. Then my mom mentioned that New York City was looking for people to become teachers,” she explains. Feeling at a crossroads and wanting a change, Barbara applied for a New York City Teaching Fellowship, a program that prepares applicants to teach high-needs subjects such as science in New York City classrooms. The first time she applied, they lost her application. She persisted, and applied again the following year and was accepted.
The rest, she says, is history.
She now teaches 7th and 8th grade general science to ENL (English as a New Language) students in the Freeport Public Schools in Freeport, New York.
Barbara with her son Elijah at the Palacio Real de Madrid in Spain.
“I stumbled upon Genigames in 2017, while doing a Google search for game-based resources for a genetics unit,” she explains. “That led me to the Concord Consortium.” She utilized the dragons in Genigames and Geniventure to explain a range of genetics topics. It worked. “Students truly understood why and how dragons exhibited a particular color.”
Barbara also uses our STEM activities in convection, conduction, earthquakes, and volcanoes. They help her visualize student misconceptions. “Technology has allowed education to become more accessible to all students,” she says. “But teachers need support learning how to integrate technology into the classroom and making lessons more meaningful to students.”
The NYC Teaching Fellows program believes “even one amazing teacher can make a meaningful difference in a student’s life.” The truth of that statement was brought home to Barbara when she taught chemistry in a bilingual high school in Manhattan. One of her 11th grade students was a mother with a child of her own. She lived with her aunt since her parents resided outside the country. With Barbara’s help and encouragement, the student successfully graduated. “A few years ago I received a phone call on Mother’s Day.” It was her student, she explains. “She wanted to tell me how much she appreciated my support and guidance. She was about to start college and wanted me to know how much it meant to her that I never gave up on her.”
Barbara has a deep appreciation for culture and nature, and her own aspirations include traveling the world. “I find that when you go outside of your element, you grow in ways you can’t possibly grow by staying in one place.”
Favorite ice cream: Chocolate or vanilla Swiss almond