About Us

School District Partners

To be announced: School Districts in Queens, NY

School District 28, Queens: Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical High School is the school that encompasses Queens, New York City. Thomas A. Edison is a unique school that offers strong academic and career & technical education programs. The school provides a real college and career ready institute, and currently offers 12 innovative C.T.E. programs. All the students are provided with the opportunity to obtain a state recognized industry certification in their CTE course of study as well as earn a high school diploma. 

Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical High School is to develop leaders of tomorrow by preparing all students to meet the high academic, technical, civic and workforce challenges of the twenty-first century. Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical High School believe that strong leadership throughout the united community of faculty members, students, parents and associates will move towards the following goals: academic rigor, high standards for assessing students' performances and continual school improvement.

School District 31, Staten Island: New York City District 31 is the school district that encompasses Staten Island. Richmond County, which includes Staten Island, a borough of New York City, is the southernmost county in the state of New York. Richmond County is the only county in New York City with one school district—essentially serving students in all of Staten Island.

District 31 has an enrollment of more than 62,000 students from pre-K to grade 12: less than one percent are Native American; 10 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander; 28 percent are Latinx; 12 percent are Black; 44 percent are White (non-Latinx); and less than one percent are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. More than half of all students (55 percent) are students from low-income families and seven percent are English language learners. The district has nearly 80 schools, nearly 50 of which are kindergarten to grade five schools; 12 of which are intermediate schools (Grades six to eight or six to nine); 10 high schools (grades nine through 12); one pre-K to grade eight school; one pre-K to grade 12 school; and three special education schools.

Yonkers Public Schools: Yonkers Public Schools is the fourth largest school district in the state of New York and encompasses the entire city of Yonkers. Located in the Hudson River Valley just north of New York City, the city of Yonkers has a total almost 32,000 students, of which more than 27,000 students are enrolled in public schools. Of all 27,000+ students, 77 percent are economically disadvantaged; 19 percent are students with disabilities; 13 percent are English language learners; 60 percent are Latinx; 17 percent are Black; and six percent are Asian/Pacific Islander.

As the second largest employer in Westchester County, the Yonkers School District employs nearly 3,800 employees, of which 2,113 are teachers. There are 39 schools, of which two are pre-K to grade five; eight are pre-K to grade six; 20 are pre-K to grade eight; one is pre-K to grade one; one caters to grades six to 12; one from grades seven to 12; and five from grades nine to 12.

Scholar Award and Stipend Recipients

Given the newness of the St. John’s University Noyce STEM Spatial Thinking Academy and its support by the National Science Foundation, we anticipate that the first scholar award and stipend recipients will commence their programs in the fall semester of 2023. At that time, we look forward to highlighting these awardees and their specializations and interests.

Faculty and Staff

Daniel Ness, Ph.D. headshot

Daniel Ness, Ph.D., Coprincipal Investigator
Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The School of Education

Dr. Ness specializes in spatial development and cognition in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum from birth through adolescence. He has taught courses in developmental and cognitive psychology, human development, mathematics, mathematics and science pedagogical content, and natural sciences. He has also developed assessment techniques for diagnosing mathematical and scientific thinking. His most recent interest is the efficacy of visuo-constructive play objects (which include play blocks, bricks (LEGOs), planks, and other constructive play materials) and their applications to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) cognition.

Dr. Chen's headshot

Xiaojun Chen, Ph.D., Coprincipal Investigator
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The School of Education

Dr. Xiaojun (June) Chen is the Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Associate Professor of Educational Technology in School of Education at St. John's University. She obtained her Ph.D. in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University, and a Master of Education in Communication, Education and Technology from the University of Manchester in UK. Dr. Chen conducts research and publishes articles in the following areas: emerging technologies in learning and globalization; technology integration and teacher education; and best practices in STEM education from an interdisciplinary technology perspective. She serves as an editorial member and reviewer for several international research journals, and she is very actively involved in international education organizations. Currently, she is working and leading a variety of funded research projects. These projects include: investigating virtual worlds for K-12 teaching and learning, cultivating reflective teaching practices through mobile technology integration, and big data ethics awareness in STEM education.

Allya Holmes Headshot

Aliya E. Holmes, Ph.D., Coprincipal Investigator
Associate Professor and Interim Dean, The School of Education

Dr. Holmes’s areas of expertise are in the areas of applied mathematics, computer science, curriculum design, and instructional technology. As a scholar and public servant, she worked with students on mission trips to New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina and South Africa to assist women and children orphaned due to their AIDS and HIV status. She has mentored children in New York City who were placed on probation for committing nonviolent crimes and supported relief efforts here in New York after Hurricane Sandy.

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Nancy P. Morabito, Ph.D., Coprincipal Investigator
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The School of Education

Dr. Morabito specializes in anatomy, biology, and physiology. As Associate Professor, she had the privilege of working with students and teachers across a range of grade levels to explore and strengthen students’ science learning experiences. Her current work focuses on in-service and pre-service teachers’ understanding of science and how this understanding influences classroom practice. Dr. Morabito also explores writing in the science classroom.


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Richard J. Rosso, Ph.D., Coprincipal Investigator
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Rosso has a plethora of research interests in chemistry that include, but are not limited to, novel ligands for biphasic media, exploration of alterative reaction media (specifically those of water and ionic liquids for catalytic hydroformylation and hydrogenation reactions), and the development of task specific ionic liquids. He is interested in developing new methodologies for undergraduate science education and serves as the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) liaison who taps interested students to become science teachers.