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DDC Educators Bring New Coastal Resiliency Curriculum to City Public School and Community College Teachers

June 6, 2019

DDC: Shoshana Khan, 718-391-1251,

(New York, NY – June 6, 2019) Educators from the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) STEAM education program came together with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) and NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) for a two-day professional development program this week in which 20 public middle school and high school teachers, after-school providers and instructors from community college Science and Technology Entry Programs (STEP) were introduced to DDC’s new Coastal Resiliency curriculum.

DDC’s “Coastal Resiliency” curriculum concerns emerging technologies that could effectively combat the effects of climate change on shoreline areas. Educators performed a series of hands-on activities that demonstrated design and construction methods that could better withstand climate change and rising sea levels. The program is designed to induce students to communicate effectively, think critically and become global problem solvers.

The training program, held at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in Manhattan, was organized by DDC STEAM in collaboration with Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, a science educator and founder of Storefront Science. DDC’s educational programs are conducted through STEAM, which partners with DOE, DYCD and STEP to bring initiatives such as the Young Engineers Program to students citywide. Overall, DDC STEAM has engaged with over 3,500 students in various programs since its inception in 2014, working exclusively with Title I schools.


DDC First Deputy Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer discusses the citywide effort to adapt to climate change and the challenges of rising sea levels

“By educating teachers about coastal resiliency and the strategies the City is currently employing to strengthen its coastlines, we are expanding the minds of students through hands-on activities and non-textbook learning,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “DDC STEAM has provided valuable knowledge and professional development to thousands young people as they continue their educational advancement.”

“High-quality STEAM curriculum and programming are a critical part of our Equity and Excellence for All agenda, said DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza. “We thank DDC for its partnership in supporting our teachers and bringing our students real-world STEAM learning experiences that will put them on the path to college and careers.”

“There is no more critical issue facing our world than environmental uncertainty. The future of our cities are in the hands of today's youth,” said LESGC Executive Director Lyn Pentecost, PhD. “The Lower Eastside Girls Club is going into our third year of collaboration with the DDC environmental engineers and educators. We are so grateful that DDC is helping us train and prepare the ones who will inherit the problems and develop the solutions."
“It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of these talented teachers who will inspire the next generation of young scientists to respond to the threat presented by climate change and the opportunity to design and engineer climate-friendly infrastructure,” said Fordham Street Foundation Executive Director Judy Bigelow. “Fordham Street Foundation is proud to support this work.”

“The City is organizing efforts such as East Side Coastal Resiliency to adapt to climate change because by the 2050s, storms like Hurricane Sandy can cause at least $90 billion in damages,” said DDC First Deputy Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “We have to continue to educate our people about this issue because the 1% chance of storms happening, can happen.”

“By teaching the teachers we can greatly increase the number of young people we can engage with our STEAM programming, introducing them to career opportunities they may not have imagined for themselves before,” said DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis. “Our goal with DDC STEAM professional development is to bring math and science concepts to life and to bring engineering and problem solving to NYC students. In our Train the Trainer sessions, we give educators, in this case, New York City Public School teachers and DYCD after school educators the opportunity to explore the concepts and methodologies in a fun environment so they are confident implementing the program.”

LEAP Afterschool Educator Alysha Mickel

“Giving students the opportunity to learn about global issues like climate change is amazing because this type of learning isn’t available to inner city kids as they are conditioned to think these issues won’t affect them,” said LEAP Afterschool Educator Alysha Mickel. “Had we been more aware of these issues going on while we were in school, we would’ve been more encouraged to make a change and take a stand. I’m glad that we are educating our students who will later contribute to the City’s effort to adapt to climate change.”

“This professional development training was worth attending because it’s about exposing students to the truth with what we are facing with climate change and encouraging them to be proactive about change at a young age,” said M.S. 228 Visual Arts Educator Irgin Sena. “I want to show my students the events that have happened so far and what can potentially happen to give them a greater understanding of today’s climate.”


Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis (seated, right) and Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone (far right in blue) with teachers at the DDC STEAM Professional Development Training on the new Coastal Resiliency curriculum

Five themes were emphasized to raise awareness of the City’s vulnerability during climate change including mapping, hurricanes, erosion, greenhouse gases and effects and methods of developing a protected shoreline. Techniques were also provided to empower NYC students to become agents of change. The goal was to develop and build a model of a plan for protecting the City’s coastal areas against sea level rise severe weather phenomena.

The teachers in this week’s professional development training represented 11 programs. DDC STEAM has helped organize seven professional development trainings since June 2017, reaching 104 instructors from schools or organizations in every borough.

Other successful DDC STEAM programs include the ACE Mentor Program, Town & Gown and the High School Summer Internship Program, a six-week paid internship program for students interested in pursuing careers in architecture, engineering, building trades, public administration, business administration or information technology.

The professional development training sessions were paid for by the Fordham Street Foundation.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $12 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit