All throughout New York State and across the country, we have all been influenced by a teacher. Whether in grammar school, now as current students, or second-hand by our educated friends and co-workers, teachers help us become the people we are as adults. This week, across the country people are saying thank you to those who educated them during Teacher Appreciation Week. At SUNY, we like to also show appreciation to the teachers out there, and showcase how we continue to stand behind them in all they do.
What better day to do this than on Thank a Teacher Day?
Teachers in New York work hard to educate students and prepare them for the changing 21st century economy waiting for them when they graduate. The NYS Master Teacher Program celebrates the highest-performing STEM teachers in New York. With over 800 outstanding teachers recognized for their dedication to providing innovative science, technology, engineering, and math education to their students, the program continues to expand. The next group of master teachers is set to be announced this fall.
The Master Teacher Program offers a variety of professional development, such as workshops on Google tools and mini-courses about Tissue Engineering, which provide valuable resources and relevant content for the classroom. According to bi-annual participant surveys, the best aspect of the statewide network is collaboration with other Master Teachers across the state. For example, some may be the only chemistry teacher in their districts, so working with other chemistry teachers is helpful to learn new methods to improve the classroom experience.
To build on collaboration, the New York State Master Teachers designed and led three Saturday conferences to encourage girls to get involved with STEM across New York State. These conferences took place in the Capital Region (University at Albany), Mid-Hudson (New Paltz), and Southern Tier (Binghamton University), where they engaged girls in a full day of workshops, with the goal of inspiring them to pursue careers in STEM fields. The 6th-8th grade participants took part in a variety of workshops like the Magic of Optics, Fractal-Mania, and Coding Bracelets. In addition to these workshops, all of the girls had the opportunity to hear from keynote female speakers who showed them what their potential in STEM could lead to in the future. At the Capital Region event, attendees heard from Nathalia Holt, author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, about her work studying and writing about female success and motivation.
Our Master Teachers in the Southern Tier, based at Binghamton Univeristy, learned from their colleagues in other regions. This year’s most recent addition to the Girls in STEM series was in the Southern Tier, who held their first event at Binghamton. The Designer Genes and SciGirl Queens Conference hosted 120 girls from 37 schools in grades 4-8 in a series of fun science workshops. Best of all, the event was free to those interested!
In total, the Master Teacher Program hosts dozens of events through the year that gives teachers the opportunity to engage with communities different than their normal. The Master Teacher Program is dedicated to introducing motivated teachers to like-minded professionals and high-quality growth experiences which keep our best teachers in the classroom. When outstanding teachers collaborate, they help each other develop the most dynamic, engaging learning experiences for our students. And that is what all of our students deserve to experience in the classroom, each and every day. We appreciate all of our teachers in New York State, for the dedication they show all year long
Taras Kufel is the Manager of Digital Engagement at the State University of New York.