October 10, 2013
State names area master teachers
9 local educators will mentor, train teachers in math, science
Nine teachers from Cortland-area school districts have been selected as inaugural members of the state’s Master Teachers Program.
“It’s amazing,” said Bridgit Johnson, a math teacher at Moravia High School who is one of the district’s three new master teachers. “The opportunities that can come from a program like this are so exciting.”
Part peer-mentoring program, part professional development opportunity, the Master Teachers Program comes as a nationwide trend aimed at improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers and programs.
Applicants endured a strenuous application process, said Moravia High School Principal Greg Jenne, who had a trio of teachers who qualified for the program.
Those seeking acceptance into the program had to provide examiners with SAT scores from high school, several letters of recommendation, had to be ranked as “highly effective teachers” under new state Annual Professional Performance Review standards, completed essay requirements and endure multiple interview sessions.
“It was intense,” Johnson said. “But we’re all professionals, and I think we did as well as could be expected in that kind of situation.”
The new position comes with added responsibilities. Master teachers will mentor their peers in their respective content areas, and will have “intensive content-oriented professional development opportunities” through SUNY Cortland throughout the duration of the year, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.
“They’ll be in charge of training new teachers coming into the profession,” said Jenne. “And will also be helping with the Common Core transition.”
“Moravia is a small district, and I’m the only teacher who teaches algebra II,” said Johnson. “So the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals in our area is just such a rare opportunity that I’m really looking forward to.”
Master teachers will draw a $15,000 stipend each of the four years that they are a part of the program. As teachers only found out they had qualified for the program on Tuesday, there are no concrete details on when teachers will find time to fulfill their new duties, though Johnson said it was likely they would take place after school, on conference days and over summer vacation.
Only four of the state’s 10 regions are represented by the first group of master teachers, though the governor’s office said that all 10 regions will accept application between Nov. 1 and Jan. 3, with final selections being made in the spring for the new round of master teachers.
“I think it’s great for our students and our parents and our community to know we have three individuals who have been selected to this group,” said Cortland High School Principal Joe Mack. “It says a lot about the quality of the teachers we have here in our district. It’s something we can be proud about and hang our hats on.”
Below is a list of Cortland-area teachers who have been named as master teachers.
Kurt Schmidt — Cincinnatus
Abbey Albright — Cortland
Karen Krichbaum-Stenger — Cortland
James Ulrich — Cortland
Kevin Douglass — Homer
Thomas George — Homer
Bridgit Johnson — Moravia
Tisha Riley — Moravia
Michelle VanEtten — Moravia
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