LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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James (Jamie) Ewing

Position: Science/STEM Teacher
School: P.S. 277 Dr. Evelina Antonetty School
School District: New York City Department of Education #7
City, State: Bronx, NY

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Jamie Ewing was nominated by an anonymous family member.

Through his innovative use of video, Mr. Ewing's instructional methods have improved student engagement, participation, and overall interest in subjects. Since March, he has created 90+ videos for engaging storytime read-alouds, assignment explanations, remarkable STEM lessons, and classroom announcements to stay connected with students and their families at home.

In early Spring 2020, distance learning and shelter-in-place orders across the world introduced new obstacles for educators and students. Suddenly, teachers were faced with the daunting challenge of transitioning to virtual teaching. Moreover, distance learning posed a greater risk for student disengagement, as teachers had to reach students through a screen, while competing with social media and other distractions to win their students’ attention as they finished the school year at home.

When faced with these challenges, Mr. Ewing stayed focused and dedicated to educating his students. He began incorporating creative video content into his remote teaching syllabus to enhance his virtual lessons. In his videos, he employs the use of props and costumes, while interacting with floating on-screen graphics and other visuals to keep his lessons fresh and his students engaged. Similar to the way teachers use whiteboards in physical classrooms, interacting with content during his video presentations allowed Mr. Ewing to maintain his “teacher presence” during Zoom classes, bring his students deeper into the concepts, and preserve the teacher-to-student connection that’s essential to effective learning.

Mr. Ewing's videos demonstrate the passion he has for teaching. His creative ability to interconnect Bitmoji, Google Slides, and Prezi Video in his video lessons highlights innovative uses of multiple EdTech pieces. For example, Mr. Ewing has created a series of videos called “STEM Stories” where he mixes in fun visuals and costumes with educational components and important learning objectives. He also created a series of videos that focused on baseball, where he taught his students about Bronx-native and former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez to illustrate the math and science of sports. This enabled his students to explore these subjects through the different components that make up the game of baseball.

Asynchronous videos have also become an essential part of Mr. Ewing's remote instruction. Mr. Ewing utilizes async communication in the form of brief, recorded videos giving assignments, mini lessons, and classroom announcements. This can help students avoid screen time fatigue and burnout by not requiring them to sit in front of live instruction for several hours per day. His recorded video updates have empowered his students to take control of their own learning and gave them the ability to re-watch difficult concepts on their own time, an option that isn’t available to students in traditional classroom settings. Mr. Ewing realized that recorded video instruction was also helpful for students who didn't have consistent access to a computer due to sharing it with their sibling or a bad Wi-Fi connection. His recorded video lessons gave these students the option to learn "on demand" when necessary.

Community is a key component to the success of all scholars. When he moved to NYC, he moved to the South Bronx, where his future husband grew up. It is not the "easiest" neighborhood, but it is diverse, vibrant, and alive! He also made a very conscious decision to find a school in his neighborhood because he believes he should support the schools that are in his neighborhood. These schools are the toughest places to find highly qualified teachers.

Mr. Ewing has worked to raise money to ensure that his scholars have the best education possible. He has worked to ensure his scholars have laptops. He started a coding club and a robotics club. Mr. Ewing actively pursued the funds to purchase robotics for his scholars and intertwined robotics into daily learning in and out of the school day. He worked on weekends to redesign an unused space in his school into a STEM/science lab.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he created a virtual summer program. He worked to create exciting, fun, and highly-engaging learning experiences for scholars to use with their families. He also designed these experiences to be done with as few purchased materials as possible. Students could use items that he knew would be commonly found in most homes, including recycled materials. Because all of his scholars were in lockdown, he ensured they all had school supplies, materials, books, and digital learning during the remote learning period of his school year and during the summer months.

During Thanksgiving time, he worked to secure funds to purchase a turkey for every family at his school. At Christmas/Winter Break, he collected donations to ensure every child took home multiple presents, as many of their parents had lost jobs and family members. No child should go without during the holidays, especially not this year.