2014 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Patricia Banhazl has been a teacher in the Baldwin school district for more than 37 years and a devoted champion for the district's School-to-Career program for the past 20. Having joined the initiative in its infancy, she has been instrumental in developing the program into what it is today -- a key component in effective learning that many students say has changed their lives.
As a teacher in the business department, Banhazl realized that students with work experience had a deeper understanding of classroom lessons. She reached out to local businesses to enhance the classroom curriculum by drawing in the business component. She soon expanded this into opportunities for her students to hear industry speakers and tour local businesses. Today, the program places 75 students into internships annually and incorporates job shadowing and mentoring with a number of local industry partners.
As she was developing the internship program, Banhazl also began a shadow program for approximately 45 students through Mercy Hospital. That program is still going strong after 20 years. It has since expanded to include a Hofstra University shadow day that incorporates an evening celebration with 30 mentors, parents, and students. Other organizations through which the district runs shadow days include Citibank, Northrop Grumman, Junior Achievement, Molloy College, National Grid, South Nassau Communities Hospital, State Farm Insurance, Winthrop Hospital and North Shore-LIJ.
Twelve years ago, Banhazl created a small mentoring pilot program, uniting students, mentors and the entire Baldwin community. Today, with over 300 mentors, it is one of the largest school-based mentoring programs on Long Island. She has served as past president of the Work Experience Coordinator Association and is the founder of the School-Business Advisory Board, which has grown exponentially over the past 20 years. She has been instrumental in obtaining thousands of dollars in grants for School-to-Career Programs at Baldwin.
"Patricia has taken learning well beyond the classroom, raising the bar for her students while ensuring they are college and career ready," wrote her award nominator. "Her tireless efforts have resulted in numerous networking opportunities and access to workplace environments that her students would not have had otherwise."