SUNY New Paltz School of Education to award Mid-Hudson teachers for excellence
NEW PALTZ -- The SUNY New Paltz School of Education will honor seven exceptional teachers in the Mid-Hudson Valley for outstanding and effective work with students by presenting to them the Dean's Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The awards will be presented at 4 p.m., Sept. 17, at a ceremony to be held at The Terrace Restaurant at SUNY New Paltz.
Since 1984, the School of Education at New Paltz has collaborated with area school districts to recognize teachers in the Mid-Hudson Valley for being superior in their fields and endeavors. This year, these seven distinguished teachers represent districts in six counties of the Mid-Hudson Valley.
"We are very proud to honor these excellent teachers," said Dr. Robert J. Michael, dean of the School of Education. "It is our hope that the Dean's Award will inspire students, parents and school administrators to recognize the efforts and dedication of all the teachers in the Mid-Hudson Valley."
As recipients of this award, each of the seven teachers will receive an honorary appointment as an adjunct clinical professor within New Paltz's School of Education. They will also be recognized by the Mid-Hudson School Study Council at a ceremony later this year.
Nominations for outstanding teachers are made by school principals and district superintendents. The awards are given by the Office of the Dean of Education at SUNY New Paltz based on recommendations from a review committee of education professionals. The winners are teachers who have demonstrated their commitment to teaching, to excellence and, most importantly, to children and their education.
Recipients of the 2003 awards are: Lynn M. Hahn (Clarkstown School District), James "Wally" Westerfield (Pine Bush Central School District), Paul Rubeo (Ulster County BOCES), Franca Petrillo (Wappingers Central School District), Kathryn Weiss and Denise Rega-Sanchez (New Paltz School District), and Nancy Schmidt (Valley Central School District).
Editors note: The following information was generated from materials of recommendation from each recipient's school district administration.
Lynn M. Hahn, Clarkstown School District, Felix V. Festa Middle School, 7th and 8th grade English: Her colleagues describe Ms. Hahn as the epitome of teaching at its best -- an innovative educator. Although she has been teaching for thirty-two years, her fellow educators state that "her lesson plans are always evolving; she taps into new trends and develops new methods." One of her students wrote that "Ms. Hahn not only taught me grammar, literature or sentence patterns, she taught me to try my best, meet deadlines, never give up and learn from my mistakes... Why should Ms. Hahn receive this award? Because she is dedicated, gets to know her students and most importantly teaches for life." Her colleagues applauded her as a mentor and leader who encourages fellow teachers to think outside the box and create new and innovative lessons and teaching strategies. Several of her students praised her for creating activities that enabled them to remember the course materials long after 7th grade - using mnemonic devices to remember sentence patterns, creating a newspaper using the prose of a time period of a recently read novel, and teaching the rules of grammar to the melody of well-known tunes. A former student teacher described Hahn by Kahlil Gibran's quote; "The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind."
Franca Petrillo, Wappingers Central School District, Van Wyck Junior High School, 6th, 7th, 8th grade, Foreign Languages: Ms. Petrillo is described as "the kind of teacher you hope that your child has for class, the kind of teacher that you want as a colleague, the kind of curriculum leader that every administrator desires, and the kind of person you want as a friend." Her colleagues feel she embodies the "No Child Left Behind" philosophy. She works tirelessly and imaginatively to foster a healthy learning environment in which her students can achieve to their fullest potential. She seeks to make learning fun through her lessons. She writes songs and rhymes to perform with her classes to reinforce lessons. She promotes school spirit with her crazy costumes and demonstrates compassion and empathy with her many volunteer activities. Ms. Petrillo is a model for teachers, for students and for the whole school community exemplifying that education does not just take place in the classroom.
Paul Rubeo, Ulster County BOCES, Content Specialist/Instructional Technology, all grade levels: Mr. Rubeo is recognized for being an enthusiastic educator who is working to improve the learning potential of students in the Mid-Hudson region. He works in classrooms with teachers to demonstrate how technology can become a fundamental classroom tool while strengthening the curriculum. When Mr. Rubeo was at Dutchess BOCES he was instrumental in bringing video conferencing to the region and also pioneered a number of online courses for teachers. Currently Mr. Rubeo works with teachers from all of the Ulster Districts to foster the use of technology as an integral part of the learning environment. He has successfully administered several New York State Education Department grants and always made both the desired teacher outcomes and the desired student outcomes a priority during the planning, implementation and evaluation phases for each grant project. The resulting projects were shared with individual grant participants and became valuable resources for teachers throughout the region.
Nancy Schmidt, Valley Central School District, Montgomery Elementary School, grades 4th & 5th: Mrs. Schmidt's teaching demonstrates the most current educational theory and creative teaching strategies. Her teaching extends well beyond the classroom. Annually she escorts her students to an environmental center to instill a love and respect for the environment. She has used school grounds to have students construct solar stills to distill water and incorporated science projects with planting shrubs and flowers that enhance the school environment. Mrs. Schmidt's colleagues lauded her as a master at integrating curriculum using the performing arts and dramatic plays as learning experiences. When beenie babies became the craze and popped up on students' desks, she incorporated them in her curriculum. She used them as props to teach writing skills, social studies, and critical and creative thinking. Her students developed a beenie baby community of houses, municipal buildings and restaurants with good, services and laws. They wrote a bill of rights for their community to ensure that the beenie babies would live in peace and harmony. One of Mrs. Schmidt's former student teachers wrote, "It was during my placement that I learned the making of an extraordinary teacher. She taught me the importance of forming a trust with the students and their parents. The bond that she developed with each of her students amazes me even today." She is not just a teacher of students but a model for those she mentors.
Kathryn Weiss and Denise Rega-Sanchez, New Paltz School District, Duzine Elementary School, Kindergarten-First Grade Multi-age Class: As their colleagues attest, Ms. Weiss and Ms. Rega-Sanchez create joy through the rigors of academic and intellectual experience on a daily basis. Their classroom is said to be a magical place in which five and six year olds regularly do all sorts of things that many say young children aren't able to do. They have developed a community in which students and adults respect each other and themselves, take responsibility for their learning and grow academically and socially. Their commitment to each child is paramount and they have been particularly successful in working with special needs students as well as second language learners who were assigned to their classes. Their partnership has yielded a number of creative projects. For example, the children designed a video showcasing the New Paltz community for prospective homeowners that was distributed to local real estate agents. Ms. Weiss and Ms. Rega-Sanchez are also praised as being teachers of teachers. Their classroom has become a professional development laboratory for new and experienced teachers. Both teachers have earned National Board Certification.
James "Wally" Westerfield, Pine Bush Central School District, Pine Bush Elementary School, 4th grade: Mr. Westerfield's formula for success: personal greetings, welcoming smiles, attentive listening, empathy, mutual respect, clear expectations, individual support, motivating lessons equals confident, independent thinkers with high academic success. A parent wrote, "He values each and every one of his students' work regardless if they excelled or struggled, coaxing the best quality of work they were capable of." Several years after leaving elementary school, a student was asked who his favorite teacher was; he answered Mr. Westerfield. He never yelled; when we got loud he'd ask us to use our inside voices and we just all knew what was expected of us. He made learning fun.
Note to editors: Media wishing to attend this event should contact the SUNY New Paltz Public Affairs Office at 257-3245 by Sept. 16 for directions and parking instructions. Please arrive at the event by 4 p.m. and see the dean of the School of Education, Robert Michael.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.