The Zak Project
Students at The Emery/Weiner School in Houston are taking part in an unusual project. Ben Stern, a technology integration specialist and history teacher at the school created The Zak Project. The project’s purpose is to help students review for their final exam in a way that also commemorates a former student, Zak Rosen. Before he could graduate, he passed away of Familial Dysautonomia (FD), also known as Riley-Day Syndrome, which largely affects Ashkenazi Jews. According to Stern, Zak was a sweet, funny and driven young man who overcame the symptoms of the disease to lead a rich life. He died in August 2010, just shy of his 18th birthday. He especially loved math and math games, so students in the Zak Project created games that incorporate information about FD as well as math concepts for their final exam. Above, Zak’s mother, Joyce Rosen, talks about her son’s life to the sixth graders as they launched their project this past spring.