School District 19 celebrated a milestone last week as community leaders and stakeholders joined faculty, staff, students, family, and friends to commemorate the grand opening of the district’s first full-service Science Technology Engineering and Mathematic school. “I am hopeful and excited for what will happen here in this brand-new building,” said Executive Superintendent Karen Watts. “That our students will be able to address their curiosity and have the opportunity to engage in an education like no other.”

Serving the East New York/Cypress Hill communities, D19 S.T.E.M. Academies comprises Public Schools 4 and 938, and Middle School 935. The new location will be able to provide incoming students with a well-rounded, rigorous, inquiry-based education that is rooted in S.T.E.M. The STEM Academies will not only serve students attending the three academies but will provide surrounding schools access to advance technological resources and tools. “Having this school in this community gives an opportunity to our neighboring school to come over and share in the resources,” said School District 19 Acting Superintendent Dr. Tamra Collins, PhD. “This building represents love. We want all of our students to love learning, love each other, and love themselves.”

In celebration of the monumental occasion and in recognition of the official opening of Middle School 935, school officials hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony. In attendance were New York State Sen. Julia Salazar, New York State Assemblyman Erik Dilan, and New York City Councilwoman Darma V. Diaz.

Although Borough President Eric Adams was unavailable to attend, he forwarded citations honoring Middle School 935 Founding Principal Jermaine Lewis, Public School 938 Founding Principal Dr. Tenieka Benn PhD, Public School 4 Principal Rabecca Schropfer, and Acting District 19 Superintendent Dr. Tamra Collins. NYC Councilwoman Darma V. Diaz joined President of Freelancer’s Union Rafael Espinal in presenting the honors. As the former city councilman for District 37, Espinal was instrumental in championing the school’s vision and funding its reality.

This fall, New York City public school children returned to full time, in-person learning. With the rising number of COVID cases hovering over the city, the mayor’s office has mandated that all students and staff wear a mask indoors and outdoors while maintaining three feet of social distance when possible. MS935 Principal Jermaine Lewis, whose official school opening was delayed because of COVID, remains optimistic about the pandemic’s impact and felt that it provided “an opportunity to do away with chalk boards, marble notebooks and worksheets and really let ‘schools’ finally resemble the rest of the world. Our teachers have found imaginative ways to use the tools made available to them during remote learning and apply them to in-person instruction. But most importantly I think COVID has provided the opportunity for administrators, teachers and students to be creative and show their versatility.”

District 19 S.T.E.M. Academies is a five-story, fully air-conditioned, accessible building for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The facility includes four pre-kindergarten classrooms, three kindergarten classrooms, 25 standard classrooms, three community special education classrooms and two reading/speech resource rooms.

The school also includes two art classrooms, a music suite with practice rooms, two science demonstration labs, a library, guidance suite, medical suite, administrative suite, and a parent/community room. In addition to a kitchen, cafeteria, and a staff lunchroom there is also a rooftop greenhouse. The facility has a District 75 program which contains 10 classrooms, two speech resource rooms, an occupational therapy room, a physical therapy room, administrative, and guidance offices. Recreational spaces include a gymatorium, an exercise room, an early childhood playground and a general playground for upper grades.