A Night in the Woods Gala
Meet the Honorees
The Swope Family
With a deep passion for Teatown, the Swope family continues to be instrumental in ensuring its success, through their generational contributions for more than half a century.
The five Swope siblings — Gerard Jr., David Sr., Henrietta, Isaac, and John — collectively decided to make the land they inherited into a preserve. Gerard Jr., who was nearing retirement, took the lead to hire Teatown’s first executive director.
Additional Swope family members who have served Teatown and guided the growth of the preserve and its educational programs include Marjorie, Sally, Stephen, David Jr., and Dorry.
We are proud to honor the Swope family as part of this year’s event.
Michael Blueglass taught high school science for 35 years, including chemistry, biology, earth science, and science research. He created and directed the Yorktown High School Science Research Program for the past 19 years. He is also the co-founder and president of the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF). In the past few years, he created STEM Research Consulting LLC which is focused on consulting with regional schools to help them grow and strengthen their science research and STEM programs.
He has recently expanded his efforts on a national basis as he started the Advancing Science Research Teaching (ASRT) program, made possible by funding from Regeneron, to help science research and STEM teachers nationwide.
Valerie Holmes is co-director of the Ossining High School Science Research Program and serves as one of the teachers of their three-year sequence of advanced research courses. While her students pursue research in all areas of STEM, Valerie’s primary passions are field biology and ecology. She has been teaching in Ossining for 21 years and has research experiences studying forest health in the Adirondacks, Hudson River ecology, and molecular biology/plant pathology.
She has partnered with Teatown educators and staff to foster environmental stewardship among her students and serves on the Teatown Advisory Board. Valerie also helps to plan and run several local high school science fairs that each serve over 700 students each year, including the Westchester Science & Engineering Fair (WESEF) and the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science & Humanities Symposium. In her spare time, she studies botanical illustration and enjoys hiking and kayaking in the Hudson Valley, Catskill Mountains, and Adirondack Park.
Angelo Piccirillo has been a high school science teacher for 34 years, the first nine of which were at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, where he taught human anatomy and physiology, health, and biology. He has spent the last 25 years at Ossining High School where he has taught ESL science, Regents biology, and forensics. In 1998, he founded the Ossining High School Science Research Program, which is now considered to be one of the most successful science research programs in New York. Mr. P, as most of his students call him, credits the success of the program to its primary mission, putting the students’ interest first.
He is the Vice President and the SRC Chair for Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF). He also serves on the organizational committee for the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science Humanities Symposium. He has been an active resident of Ossining for the past 26 years and has volunteered as soccer coach and referee for his daughters’ teams. Many of his science research students have conducted research at Teatown over the years, and he hopes this wonderful relationship continues to grow in order to further educate individuals about the need for environmental conservation.
Teatown’s Nature Girls
Teatown’s Nature Girls are fifth-grade girls from the Ossining and Tarrytown school districts who join in summer and after-school enrichment programs that develop their interests in nature and science in a safe, engaging, and empowering environment. More than a decade ago, Teatown educators realized that tween girls — long-time Teatown Summer Science Day Campers — were not continuing with camp.
They were bowing to peer pressure that told them that science wasn’t cool. Nature Girls was envisioned as a way to bolster girls’ interest in science and give them their own space to follow their interest in nature and science, while building leadership skills and self-esteem. Ever since, Nature Girls have been exploring at Teatown, the Peabody Preserve, and the Kathryn W. Davis RiverWalk Center along the Hudson River in Sleepy Hollow. Nature Girls focus on cooperation, self-confidence, and leadership skills as they follow in the footsteps of Jane Goodall and other great women scientists.