As a teacher in Philadelphia, the most significant obstacle that Jayda Pugliese has encountered is the lack of resources due to budget constraints. When she arrived at her current school as a fifth-grade science and mathematics teacher, there were no science books or materials for grades K–6. She overcame this obstacle by writing for competitive grants and obtained over $20,000 for various science-based initiatives, such as a rooftop garden and materials for the school (textbooks, microscopes, glassware). She also wrote and received a grant that helped place fully stocked Chromebook carts in ten classrooms to incorporate more technology. Concetta D’Alessandro, School-Based Teacher Leader at Andrew Jackson Elementary School, says Pugliese “has broadened my perspective as an educator because of her extensive involvement with the school and her passion to make science accessible to both the students and the community.” Pugliese also raised money for a MakerBot 3D Printer, which has allowed students to build and donate a usable, prosthetic hand for a four-year-old girl within the community. Currently, her students are creating a prosthetic leg for a dog in Connecticut. These experiences have allowed Pugliese to turn her science instruction into service learning projects, which has made a significant difference in the level of motivation and tolerance among her students. They are changing the world right from the classroom.
Visit the NSTA website to learn more about the Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary School Teachers.