Jericho’s ‘Future Authors’ dish it out, with Canon’s help

Sign here: The Jericho Board of Education held a special book-signing event Oct. 17 to mark the publication of "Sweet and Savory Serendipity."

A “valued nexus” between a Long Island School District and a global imaging supergiant has been energized in a surprisingly tasty way.

Canon Solutions America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Melville-based Canon USA Inc., has brought its lauded Future Authors Project – a digital-learning experience that’s thrived for a decade in Florida’s Palm Beach County School District – to Nassau County’s Jericho School District.

The arrival – marked by the publication of “Sweet and Savory Serendipity,” a short-stories anthology by Jericho students and teachers – represents the first stop for the Future Authors Project outside Palm Beach County, en route to what Canon Solutions America describes as a national proliferation.

The Future Authors Project is actually a holdover from Océ North America, a U.S. subsidiary of Netherlands-based printing/copying manufacturer Océ, which was absorbed by Canon in 2010.

Océ North America launched the community-enrichment program in 2007 as a way to inspire youngsters to consider writing and editing careers – and, of course, as an ingenious marketing tool. After the Japanese conglomerate took over, it kept up the Future Authors effort in Palm Beach County, and in the seven years since the program has “grown exponentially,” according to Canon Solutions America Senior Sales Director Robert Ricottone.

Its success prompted Canon to explore the possibility of replicating the Future Authors Program elsewhere – and thinking focused first on Long Island, Ricottone noted, where Canon USA’s Melville headquarters looms large.

“We really wanted to take it to the Northeast region,” he told Innovate LI. “With our Canon USA headquarters right here in Melville, we already have a strong relationship with Jericho schools.”

The Future Authors Program’s new Jericho chapter actually launched over the summer, with a weeklong collaborative workshop for students and teachers covering the writing and editing process.

Wordsmiths: Jericho’s “Future Authors” enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Participating students also took part in a field trip to Canon USA’s state-of-the-art Melville mothership, where they toured showrooms and took an instructional imaging class designed to help them complement their writing with vivid photography and other compelling visuals. As part of that “valued nexus” referenced by Canon Solutions America, the company also provided digital-imaging tech to Jericho schools for use on the project.

District English teacher Suzanne Valenza, who spearheaded the program for Jericho schools, selected food as the theme of the inaugural Jericho edition, in part for the genre’s “ability to inherently connect people and inspire conversation.”

“The combination of our dynamic workshop, which helped spur story-development ideas and critical-thinking skills, with the cameras provided by Canon helped truly bring these great stories centered on food to life,” Valenza said.

Suzanne Valenza: Food for thought.

The Future Authors Program took center stage at an Oct. 17 meeting of the Jericho Board of Education, where students and teachers who contributed to “Sweet and Savory Serendipity” participated in a book-signing celebration.

Some 13 district students are featured in the anthology, which according to Jericho High School English language arts curriculum associate Daniel Salzman “embod(ies) the spirit of Future Ready education” – a reference to the national Future Ready Schools movement, which accelerates the use of digital-learning tools in the classroom.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the hard work and concerted effort put forth into this beneficial program,” Salzman told the board.

With the first edition of the Jericho School District’s Future Authors Program in the books, both the district and Canon Solutions America are looking ahead. A second Jericho edition, featuring an expanded number of contributors, is already in the works: Salzman noted the district “looks forward to creating more memories and books in the future.”

Canon, meanwhile, is also focused on bringing the program to other districts, “and not just on Long Island,” according to Ricottone.

“We are looking to expand this to many new districts,” the senior director said. “We already have conversations going on with schools in Houston and other districts throughout the country.

“We’re really trying to make this a national program.”

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