supporting Cambridge public school students

Meet Jay Mahoney – 2015 Kenneth S. Neal Award Winner

Jay Mahoney was nominated for the Kenneth S. Neal award by a Rindge Avenue Upper Campus (RAUS) parent for his inspiring work as a 7th grade science teacher and his willingness to take on the hard work of coordinating the RAUS NetPals program. The work of running a successful NetPals program starts with successful teaching, an ability which was recognized last year when Jay received the Curious Teacher Award from the Cambridge School Department and the Cambridge Science Festival, and, over the years, by hundreds of Jay’s students. When asked what they think about Mr. Mahoney, students say, “I have always loved science because Mr. Mahoney is so enthusiastic about science. He makes science funny and fun. He is the best at explaining lessons!”

With degrees from the University of Lowell and UMass Boston, Jay Mahoney started his teaching career as a social studies teacher. Then, at the suggestion of the principal of the Martin Luther King School where he began his teaching career in Cambridge, Jay became certified as a science teacher, and he has been a science teacher ever since. “It was the best thing that could have happened to me,” says Jay. “Students love the hands-on nature of science, the fact that it is a “doing” subject which they can really get involved in.” Jay also feels that students need exposure to STEM learning and STEM careers, that if we don’t encourage STEM learning, we are doing a disservice to the current generation who may be ill-prepared for the jobs of the future.

Jay’s involvement with NetPals goes back to the days when the program was situated in the Peabody School’s sixth grade. His role was to organize the annual spring Science Fair to which the NetPals were invited. Once the program was moved to grade 7 in the Rindge Avenue Upper Campus, Jay became the lead NetPals teacher, incorporating the email component of the program into his science curriculum and taking over all aspects of program management, including training the volunteers, organizing two school-based events – a math breakfast and the Science Fair lunch – for 180 adults and students, and supervising the flow of emails between 90 mentor/student matches. Like the RAUC mother of three sons who nominated him, Jay understands the value of his students having a relationship with a professional adult who is not a family friend and who takes an interest in them and makes them feel special.

NetPals is not the only connection Jay has had with CSV. Jay also collaborated with CSV to coordinate regular before-school tutorial sessions for the Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. The goal of AVID was to prepare middle school students who needed a little extra help to reach their full potential for high school and post secondary opportunities. Jay passed on his passion for inspiring students to think about college and career connections to the tutors he trained, including members of Harvard’s Wrestling team and Women’s Ice Hockey team.

CSV was delighted to honor Jay with the Kenneth S. Neal award and looks forward to many more years of collaboration on NetPals and beyond.