MAT in the Ironbound

Focus on environmental issues in the Ironbound district.

As part of the project, the Oliver Street School students studied pollution in the nearby Passaic River, the creation of Riverfront Stadium and Riverfront Park and a Newark garbage incinerator.Students in Drew’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program collaborated with students in eighth-grade classes at the Oliver Street School in Newark, New Jersey, on an environmental justice project—a “museum” that included multimedia displays and reflected the history of environmental issues in the Ironbound neighborhood in Newark.

Drew’s involvement drew praise from Nicole Neil, a teacher at Oliver Street School, who said, “This project offered great opportunities for our students to learn about their neighborhood beyond their backyard. They were exposed to a collegiate culture and taught the importance of research and collaboration. Many of our students were thrilled with the projects that they created. This was truly an invaluable experience for all involved.”

Jonatan Aliaga, a Drew MAT student, said one of the goals was to teach the students history and social studies skills they would need in high school. Partnering with the local public library and the Ironbound Community Corporation, the Oliver Street School students chose research topics and learned how to use primary and secondary sources to conduct historical research. “It was fantastic to raise their awareness,” he said. “We were building their academics and a rapport with the students.”

The work with Oliver Street School, led by Professor Linda Swerdlow, was so successful that Swerdlow and her students were asked to present their project at the New Jersey Association for Middle Level Education conference. Participating along with Swerdlow were Jonaton Aliaga, Chris Brophy, David Gillespie, Larisa GJivoje, Shauntia Harrison, Jack Kane, James McCourt and Amanda Taylor.

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