Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Impact of Student Robotics on the Lives of Young People

Letter from my friend, Gary Israel, Director and general 'mother hen' of the Morris High School robotics team (Morris is a public school in the South Bronx, NYC) for the past 20+ years. The team, 2Train Robotics, has won many honors and distinguished itself in many ways over the years. Here's Gary's heartwarming recounting of meeting up with a former student/member of the team after a good many years... enjoy!

From: Gary Israel
To: markgura
Subject: Connecting with a Former Morris H.S Student on 2Train Robotics (17 years later)

Dear Family and Friends,

There have been many highlights for 2Train (and for me personally) over the past 20 years, such as being honored on the Floor of the United States House of Representatives in 2003 (and again this year on the team's 20th anniversary), and of course the team being honored on the field at Yankee Stadium for 18 consecutive years,

But for me connecting with former students on the robotics team and listening to the impact the team had on their lives, now that is PRICELESS! 

So of course I was so excited when a good friend in Rockland County NY, told me he knew an extraordinary young man (Carlos Martinez) who not only attended Morris High School in the Bronx but was on the school's robotics team in 2002. I might not know what I had for breakfast this morning but I remember that was a pretty special year. It was the year that I took the robotics team to Kennedy Space Center to compete in our first competition after 9/11 and returning to be honored on the field at Yankee Stadium.

So last week I went to see Carlos, who is the Executive Director of Rockland County's Independent Living Center’s BRIDGES, a non-profit agency (Building Relationships Investing in Diversity Genuinely Empowering Self) dedicated to providing leadership, advocacy and support services to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. I couldn't have been prouder as I got the VIP tour and met all the BRIDGES staff. 

The following day I received an email from the Deputy Executive Director who said "It was nice meeting you too! It was pretty special for Carlos to reconnect with you. As a teacher, It must be so gratifying to see a student develop into such an accomplished adult." 

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