Health Sciences Charter School Selected for Verizon Foundation Program to Enhance Students' Math and Science Skills

Students at Health Sciences Charter School will be able to enhance their skills in science, technology, engineering and math - thanks to assistance from the Verizon Foundation and Samsung, and the dedication and persistence of the school's grant writer.

Samsung is donating 80 tablets to the high school, which enabled it to be selected for the Verizon Innovative Learning School program.  The program, which works with underserved schools across the country, provides them with year-long training from ISTE, a prestigious global organization dedicated to helping educators more effectively and innovatively use technology to support student learning in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

As part of the Verizon Innovative Learning School program, Health Sciences Charter School will also receive a Verizon Foundation grant of nearly $50,000 for stipends for teachers who attend online and on-site professional development training from ISTE throughout the year.

Representatives from Verizon and Samsung met with school officials on Thursday (May 17) at the school and announced its selection for the program and the donation of the tablets. 

Behind the announcement is a story of persistence, drive and connections to Buffalo.  

When the school's grant writer, Maurine Falkowski, learned last month that the Verizon Foundation was seeking schools in underserved areas to apply for the Verizon program, she sent in an application even though her school did not have mobile devices for students, one of the program's main requirements. 

Undeterred, Falkowski worked with Verizon's government and external affairs director in Buffalo, Maureen Rasp-Glose, who put her in touch with Justina Nixon-Saintil, the Verizon Foundation's director of education initiatives.

Falkowski asked Nixon-Saintil for help in obtaining mobile devices.  Nixon-Saintil, a graduate of the University of Buffalo, readily agreed.  She reached out to her contacts and found a team at Samsung that wanted to be involved.

"We're passionate about getting students to use the latest technologies in and outside of class," said Paul Hanton, vice president of national sales at Samsung. "Today, students need to be familiar with mobile devices, and when we learned of the situation at Health Sciences Charter School, we wanted to help and give the students the resources they need so they can be a part of this program."

Dr. Hank Stopinski, the school's principal, said: "Being a part of the Verizon Innovative Learning School program will enhance opportunities in the classroom and further prepare our students for higher education and careers in the health care industry. Now in our classrooms we can use the technologies that are currently used by health professionals."

Studies have shown that minorities, women and low-income students are underrepresented in the scientific and technical disciplines at a time when the demand for workers skilled in STEM subjects is strong and growing. Over the past 10 years, for example, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than other jobs. 

Health Sciences Charter School, established in 2010, focuses on preparing students for future careers in the health sciences, a field that offers many job opportunities in the Buffalo-Niagara region, due to the critical shortage of skilled workers to fill health-related positions in the region.

Nixon-Saintil said: "As soon as Samsung agreed to help Health Sciences Charter School, I was ecstatic and thought that it would be great to surprise the school with this announcement. Our goal at the Verizon Foundation is to implement programs that have a positive impact on student achievement and I am pleased that we can work with this school to realize this goal."

The Verizon Foundation helps people to live healthy, safe and independent lives by addressing disparities in education, health care and sustainability.  Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live.  Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information, visit www.verizonfoundation.org or follow @VerizonGiving

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with 93 million retail customers nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 192,000.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.