Amanda Valenti

Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics • 2022

Title and Organization Physics Teacher, Columbia Secondary School

Amanda Valenti

Bio

Aware of the dismal statistics related to physics education in the United States (less than two in five high schools across the United States even offer physics classes), Ms. Valenti has been determined to broaden access to the subject she loves—and her work has paid off. Over the course of her teaching career at Columbia Secondary School, Ms. Valenti has significantly increased student interest in physics courses, and more students have taken the Physics Regents, with a 96% pass rate. Recently, Ms. Valenti received the Big Apple Teacher Excellence Award from the New York City Department of Education, which recognizes teachers who inspire students, exemplify great teaching, and improve school communities. Ms. Valenti’s dedication extends beyond her classroom, from serving as head of the Engineering Department numerous times, to mentoring faculty members, organizing an annual Family Science Night and STEM Expo, and obtaining grants to upgrade computers and lab equipment. Among her students, Ms. Valenti is known for her inventive and highly interactive teaching methods aimed at deepening interest in physics by encouraging students to build, test, and deploy conceptual models of physical relationships. “Ms. Valenti plans everything with a focus on student engagement in mind,” says CSS Assistant Principal Marisol Weiner. “She believes that if she can gain their attention, or have them enjoy manipulating the materials, they will be thirsty to understand the concepts.”