East Greenwich Elementary Teacher Wins National Award

EAST GREENWICH — Nicole Macaluso, at teacher at the Samuel Mickle Elementary School, was one of five teachers selected as winners in the 2022 “Your Voice is Power” competition sponsored through a partnership between the Georgia Institute of Technology, Amazon Future Engineer and YELLOW, a non-profit organization established by Pharrell Williams.

“’Your Voice is Power’ is a unique, multidisciplinary experience that explores how coding, music, and entrepreneurship can all be pathways to social justice,” said Roxanne Moore, project lead for YVIP and senior research engineer at Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC).

The competition is open to K-12 students to create remixes of songs by Williams, Alicia Keys, and Khalid using EarSketch, a web-based digital audio workstation that uses Python or JavaScript to compose music.

Macaluso was selected as an “Above and Beyond Teacher Winner” and was awarded a $1,000 prize. The other winning teachers were from California, Hawaii, and Illinois.

When Macaluso was asked how the competition might affect her teaching moving forward, she replied, “This experience further reminded me that students are not fearful of talking about societal topics, and that they often wish there was more of a platform for them to use their voices. It was amazing to hear students share their own experiences and discuss their learning.

It was wonderful to be able to create that safe space for them. Going forward, I am already in touch with professional friends and artists of my current colleagues. My plan is to support my students in designing a social justice-themed classroom since I recently had to move rooms (and my students design my classroom).”

“Then, my goal is to support students in bringing further social empowerment to the community through artistic projects, aided by professional artists. I also look forward to participating in Your Voice is Power again. I continue to seek new experiences that can help me to learn and grow alongside my students,” said Macaluso.

Four of Macaluso’s SOAR students also placed in the top 100 in the nation, each receiving a $25 Amazon gift card. The students are Xavier Golembiewski – 6th grade; Adeline So – 5th Grade; Brayden Sprang – 5th grade; and Olivia Slocum – 5th Grade.

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