Editor's Note: The following was submitted by the Sharon Education Foundation.
Dianne Needle, President of the Sharon Education Foundation (SEF) awarded the 2012 Lee Flaxer Award to Timothy Vigorito, Physical Education teacher at Heights Elementary School last Thursday.
Vigorito has been a dedicated teacher and curriculum coordinator in Sharon since 1995. He began his career in Sharon as the health teacher for all three schools. Six years later, he began teaching physical education at Heights Elementary. Vigorito is an accomplished educator who has spearheaded aids education and awareness training, mentored inner city students brought to Sharon through the METCO program and consulted with parents and administrators throughout the renovation of two elementary school playgrounds.
"Tim Vigorito is an exceptional teacher who creates lasting and positive impressions upon his students," said Timothy Farmer, Superintendent of Sharon Public Schools. "He also demonstrates a deep commitment to the Heights School community and to the Sharon Public Schools. While I was not lucky enough to know Lee Flaxer, from what I've heard she and Tim Vigorito share many common character traits that cause people to admire and respect them. I can't think of another person who is more deserving of this award, especially due to the Height's Elementary School connection between Tim and Ms. Flaxer."
Yet beyond this remarkable work, Mr. Vigorito has provided a unique and exciting opportunity for the students in Sharon unlike any other offered to elementary school students throughout the U.S. In 2007, “Mr. V” created a program dubbed Space Camp as part of the indoor recess program at Heights, which excelled beyond all parent expectations. Within his program, students see another purpose to gym – relating physical exercise to the exploration of space. Over the years, Space Camp has grown and Mr. V’s program has become a model that Lockheed Martin promotes in its company newsletter. It also caught the attention of Thermo Scientific director Andrew Amrhein, a Sharon resident who has enthusiastically supported Tim’s program and brought assemblies to Heights to see it in action.
Last spring, folks at NASA stumbled upon one such article about Space Camp, and made contact. NASA invited Vigorito to participate in Mission X- an international educational challenge focusing on fitness and nutrition. Teams of students from the United States, Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Colombia, Spain and the United Kingdom would participate in a pilot project to teach students principles of healthy eating and exercise. NASA designed Mission X to include science training modules and healthy living activities that compare to those used by astronauts during all phases of space flight.
Vigorito jumped at the chance to apply for Sharon Public Schools to participate in the NASA Mission X program, and our district was selected to be one of three in the country to represent the United States. Under Tim’s leadership, PE instructors from the three elementary schools in town adopted the program and over 1,000 students in grades 3-5 participated. Throughout the sessions, students got the chance to interact with NASA scientists, astronauts and engineers on the Space Station. Independently, Mr. V began using Skype with sister schools participating in the program from the UK and Italy.
Heights Elementary School Principal Lisa Lamore said “In addition to new communication with other countries, our students and teachers have also had phenomenal opportunities to converse with NASA astronauts via Skype sessions! Through his spirited efforts, Tim is inspiring many of our students to further study space science and consider their own ideas about a career in space!”
“Tim Vigorito is a dynamic educator whose work embodies the mission of SEF – to provide unique learning experiences that extend far beyond the classroom walls,” said SEF President Dianne Needle. “We want Tim to continue to reach for the stars and that’s why SEF gave him a $1,500 grant this year so he can purchase a portable laptop to connect with even more students from around the world.”