Wise AwardsOct. 17, 2016 - County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the Westchester County Youth Board will honor Dr. Dean Saghafi and Mr. Michael Garcia-Wing with the inaugural Westchester Innovative School Educators (WISE) Award. The awards will be presented, along with the Milly Kibrick Youth Service Awards, at a dinner beginning at 6 p.m., Oct. 19, at Beckwith Pointe, 700 Davenport Avenue, New Rochelle.

Additionally, Astorino announced that Ebony White, Workforce Development Coordinator for the Business Council of Westchester, will provide the dinner’s keynote address.

"Congratulations to Dr. Saghafi and Mr. Garcia-Wing, two innovative educations who go the extra mile to help their students achieve," Astorino said. “Through their unique ability to inspire students, and commitment to carry their passion beyond the four corners of the classroom, these two educators have had an astonishing impact on their communities and beyond.”

The WISE Awards are given to certified professionals currently working in educational settings or alternative education pathways and have developed innovative solutions to challenges facing our youth through the educational system that serves them.

For the last 10 years, Dr. Dean Saghafi has been teaching at Lincoln High School in Yonkers and is the director of the Program for Scientific Inquiry, a science research academy that he developed. Saghafi has won the Young Science Achiever’s Teacher of the Year Award and the 2012–2013 Outstanding Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year Award. Last year, he was the recipient of the Yonkers Public Schools Teacher of the Year Award.

“Teaching is a divine calling, which has provided me an incredible opportunity to mold the lives and the careers of the future generations of our society,” Dr. Saghafi said. “It is the most wonderful profession in the world.”

Michael Garcia-Wing has been teaching eighth grade earth science at Hommocks Middle School in Mamaroneck since 2002 and works directly with the Westchester County Youth Bureau and the City of White Plains. Since 2014, Garcia-Wing has been the Director of Informal Science Programs at the STEM Leadership Center.

"I am deeply honored and grateful to Westchester County for recognizing my efforts,” Garcia-Wing said. “My approach to teaching STEM is driven by my personal commitment and necessity to be innovative in both my classroom and as a non-profit director of informal science education."

As the Workforce Development Coordinator for the Business Council of Westchester, White has helped develop more than 700 jobs for young people in Westchester and worked with various youth agencies to successfully place more than 600 young adults.

“It is an honor to serve as the Keynote Speaker for the Youth Service Awards Dinner,” White said. “I am truly inspired by the impactful work being done by the student honorees. Through their passion, dedication and hard work they are changing the lives of those they encounter. These young men and women are the future leaders of our communities and I am so grateful to be a part of celebrating their achievements.”

The aim of the Youth Board’s awards program is to recognize students and teachers who have been involved in building a flourishing, strong and compassionate community through individual efforts and actions.