We all know that teachers put in long hours and hard work helping students of all ages learn and grow. Many of them become mentors to our students, helping them overcome difficulties and challenges before seeing them become successful graduates and professionals. In honor of our nation’s teachers, May 1 through May 7 has been deemed Teacher Appreciation Week to recognize the dedication that thousands of instructors impart on their students each day. And it just to happens that this Tuesday, May 3, is Teacher Appreciation Day. So polish off those apples and drop one off on your teacher’s desk!
In a proclamation late last week, President Barack Obama announced the celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week this May. He described America’s long history and reliance on teachers, and how their work has been one of the most important foundations of our country.
“Just as we know a student’s circumstances do not dictate his or her potential, we know that having an effective teacher is the most important in-school factor for student success,” Obama said. “That is why my Administration has been committed to better recruiting, preparing, retraining, and rewarding America’s teachers.”
SUNY has had an intimate relationship with teachers and teaching since it’s founding, and not just because of all the amazing professors who teach at our colleges. When SUNY was formally established in 1948, it initially represented a consolidation of 29 unaffiliated institutions, including 11 teacher’s colleges. All of these colleges, with their unique histories and backgrounds, united for a common goal: To serve New York State. This continues today.
Among SUNY’s 64 schools (a mix of 29 state-operated campuses and five statutory colleges and 30 community colleges), there are almost 800 active teacher preparation programs which supply nearly 22% of New York State’s teacher workforce and foster the education of students earning their degree in teaching each year. At SUNY, we teach the teachers that teach our students. In addition, there can be a SUNY graduate found in every New York State school district. Even though our institutions are no longer dedicated “teacher’s colleges,” SUNY is working just as hard as ever to prepare the future teachers of America.
Today, SUNY awards more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees each year in its educator-preparation programs (EPPs), a number that makes it the largest single preparer of classroom instructors and education administrators in the state. For example, students can earn a bachelors in childhood education at the College at Brockport or get a doctorate in foreign and second language education at the University at Buffalo.
But for teachers who didn’t receive their degree from SUNY, there are still ways that SUNY helps.
Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the New York State Master Teacher Program (NYSMTP) in partnership with The State University of New York and Math for America in response to the call to strengthen our nation’s K-12 STEM education. The NYSMTP celebrates the work of the best STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) teachers in New York. These Master Teachers work together to sustain a professional network, share their successful practices with colleagues in their schools and districts, and support the recruitment, professional preparation, and induction of pre-service teachers through mentorship and other activities.
This March, Governor Cuomo announced the expansion of the Master Teachers Program. While more Master Teacher’s will join the network, three regional programs (Central New York, Long Island, and Western New York) will host a pilot program to extend the Master Teacher Program to outstanding STEM teachers with training and expertise in working with English-language-learners and special education designated students.
“We want the best possible teachers in every New York classroom educating our children,” Governor Cuomo said. “As part of the state’s work to transform our education system and put students first, we are committed to investing in great teachers to educate our students and create a highly-trained workforce to drive our future economy. This program will reward those teachers who work harder to make the difference and whose students perform better as a result.”
The Master Teachers work tirelessly to make sure each of their students truly get the best possible education to prepare them for the 21st century global economy.
In addition, SUNY has launched an initiative titled TeachNY to focus on teacher development. The program aims to ensure that there are clear and effective policies in place to foster exemplary teacher and leader preparation practices, and to address challenges in the education pipeline for their students. Collectively, the SUNY system provides nearly a quarter of all New York State teachers each year, and in turn plans to educate the workforce to the best of our ability through our education programs.
Key goals set by the Advisory Council of TeachNY include diversifying the education workforce, encouraging innovation and experimentation, creating an ecosystem of effective collaboration, and deploying the NYS Masters Teacher Program, mentioned earlier.
“We have recognized that ensuring a pipeline of highly qualified high school graduates requires highly qualified teachers,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “As I have said repeatedly, we prepare the teachers who prepare the students who come to college ready or not. We own this challenge!”
Julia is a student assistant in the SUNY Office of New Media. She is an undergraduate student at the University at Albany pursuing a double major in Communications and Business Administration with a concentration in marketing.