Tracey Wong | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Educators

Tracey Wong is not one to take no for an answer. Early in her career as a classroom teacher in the Bronx, NY, she asked the principal to reopen the shuttered school library, since she would soon have her library degree. He said budgets made that impossible. “So I started pretending I was the librarian,” Wong says. “I emailed him articles on test scores and how to change school culture. I brought in an author. I manually checked out books to my reading groups. I did colleague lunch-and-learns on my own.”
Tracey Wong

CURRENT POSITION

Library Media Specialist, Blind Brook Middle School & High School, Rye Brook, NY

DEGREE

M.Ed., School Library and Information Technologies, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, 2012; MS in Reading, Lehman College, CUNY, 2004; MS, Elementary Education, Pace University, 2004

FOLLOW

@traceycarayol on Twitter; Ms. Wong's Wonders; Tracey Wong on Weebly; Showcasing Educator Effectiveness

Photo courtesy of Tracey Wong

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Go-Getter

Tracey Wong is not one to take no for an answer. Early in her career as a classroom teacher in the Bronx, NY, she asked the principal to reopen the shuttered school library, since she would soon have her library degree. He said budgets made that impossible. “So I started pretending I was the librarian,” Wong says. “I emailed him articles on test scores and how to change school culture. I brought in an author. I manually checked out books to my reading groups. I did colleague lunch-and-learns on my own.”

The principal opened up the school librarian position.

Her days of “fake it ’til you make it” are now long gone. This esteemed educator is known for transforming learning communities through savvy innovation. In a three-year period, Wong obtained roughly $1 million in program funding for three NYC Department of Education schools where she worked from 2012 to 2015. She also secured a $5,000 Citizens NYC & HSBC Water Conservation Award that facilitated student implementation of a science project through the school library. Additionally, Wong single-handedly wrote and was awarded a $565,868 My Brother’s Keeper grant for the Greenburgh Central School District, NY, prior to moving to Blind Brook Middle & High School in September 2017.

Wong’s latest achievements are solving community problems through creative student service learning projects. As a winner of the Dremel #LearnMakeGive contest, she acquired 3-D printers to work with second and third graders using Tinkercad software to design limbs for disabled pets. The kids were “incredibly inspired. They skipped recess…to work,” says Wong. “There were times of frustration, but the kids did not give up because they wanted so badly to help.”

This past May, with colleague Rocco Varuolo at Greenburgh, Wong won the Lemelson–MIT Excite Award. She is working with an all-girl group to invent LED safety jackets, which would alleviate a community problem: a dearth of sidewalks, which result in traffic accidents during early morning and evening. The girls are coding phrases, such as “RUNNER,” “SLOW DOWN,” and “KIDS AT PLAY.” Those options will be preprogrammed into users’ smartphones, and wearers will be able to select and change the message displayed on the back of their jackets.

Wong’s priority is to educate others about what’s happening inside future-ready libraries and schools. “I always say I am teaching the next Steve Jobs. I…give kids that opportunity to create, innovate, and invent.”

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