Utica City School District
Andrea has been a Special Education teacher in the Utica City School District for 18 years. She currently teaches 4th, 5th and 6th grade Special Education Resource at Columbus Elementary School. Andrea cares greatly for her students and always goes above and beyond to put in the time and effort to have the greatest impact possible on their educational experience. During these unprecedented times that all teachers are facing, Andrea has continued to adapt to the concepts necessary to effectively teach her students through distance learning. Andrea continues to maximize her students educational experience by creatively using all of the learning platforms at their disposal. While continuing to provide exemplary educational instruction to her students she has also had to take on the added responsibility of teaching three additional grade levels and curriculums at home to her own children who are in Pre-K, 1st and 2nd grade. Andrea’s steadfast dedication to her career and her family are truly inspiring. I know Andrea would never want any accolades but she most certainly is deserving of them.
Diana Durso, L.S.W.
Whitesboro Central School District
Diana has been a Social Worker for nearly (30) years, with the past (21) years at the Whitesboro Central School District. Plain and simple, Diana cares about "others." She goes above and beyond for every task. She has worked with people of all ages. She works with people one-on-one and in groups. She is an Author having written a children's story about bullying called "Did you know that's not my name." Diana has been working hard during the pandemic making sure that she's in contact with her students and their families. Zoom meetings have become a daily part of her work day. Thank you to Diana....for caring about others and for all that you do!
Utica City School District
Scott Rogowski works at Jefferson Elementary in North Utica. Scott's passion for teaching shines through in his students smiles as they enter his classroom. Scott uses unique teaching exercises to get the student engaged. Students, and colleagues, have stated that he makes the classroom experience vibrant and fun. He has turned the virtual classrooms into learning experience like no other. He starts off each Zoom with a game called Gimkit. This is a 10 minute multiplication game where you can buy merchandise and power up all while learning math. He also uses this platform to reach out to his student to let them know he is there and cares for them. He is readily available for tutoring the students. He is one those teachers you would always go back and visit.
Whitesboro Central School District
A gentle soul, Erica Pendrak teaches First Grade at Deerfield Elementary School with sensitivity, compassion, creativity, and fun. In each lesson, each day, she challenges her students, expands those little minds, gives them structure and boundaries, but never forgets that they’re just six and seven-year-olds needing love and attention as well as education. Since schools closed because of the Coronavirus, she has exemplified what it truly means to be a teacher. Right away, she turned a spare room at home into her virtual classroom and was posting video lessons before anyone said she had to. She keeps in touch with her students and their parents, using Google classroom and teaching live on Zoom so her students can interact with her and each other. She even made each student a “Mini Miss Pendrak” that she mailed them. She also sent a poem with it that encourages them to take her with them whatever they do, “. . . This can be anything from building a fort, to climbing a tree. You can play a new sport or simply run free! Just send a picture my way, I can’t wait to see! All the fun we will play, Just you and me!” And sure enough, her students are sending her photos of themselves with their Mini Miss Pendraks. So adorable! Erica Pendrak recognizes that each of her first graders is precious and that makes her precious, too.
Sauquoit Valley High School
Bringing research papers and classic literature to life for teenagers is near impossible, especially when competing with the joys and pressures of teen life, but Marisa Cardillo does just that with her 12th Grade English students at Sauquoit Valley High School. However, now she’s competing with their frustration of being stuck at home, not something natural to teenagers! Since the Coronavirus closed schools, she has been Superwoman. Teaching six different classes, including AP English, with Google Classroom and Zoom so that her students’ learning can continue to be interactive is only part of her magic. She does all this while homeschooling her two young children and doing all of the grocery shopping and errands for her parents and grandfather to protect them from the virus. She has an infinite amount of patience and an unparalleled ability to juggle multiple roles with devotion, enthusiasm, sincerity, and compassion. Helping deliver congratulatory “Senior Strong” lawn signs to each 12th grader’s home to give them something special when they’ve lost so much this year is just a snippet of how she makes each student feel. She makes each student feel special because, to Mrs. Cardillo, each student is special.
New Hartford CSD
Diane has been a Teacher for more than 20 years and is currently employed by the New Hartford Central School District. During the recent pandemic, it’s been a struggle every single day for her to balance the requirements of the school and to meet the the needs of the student/parents. Diane has done a great job with traversing this difficult terrain with poise and grace. This time is not only the most difficult in most teachers careers, but also their biggest opportunity to shine. Diane continues to go above and beyond while staying connected to her students and their families. I am so proud of her dedication and commitment, especially the long hours she puts in each day. I am proud to show my appreciation for her! Congratulations Diane and thank you for all that you do! At least that’s a silver lining to this dark cloud.
Connie Byrne is a Special Education Teacher at Herkimer BOCES. Mrs. Byrne created a virtual classroom environment during this COVID-19 closure where her students are successful. She is an educator who leads by example. Students know that Mrs. Bryne cares deeply about each one of them and she makes an effort to build a rapport with them. Mrs. Bryne is an extraordinary educator who leads with compassion and believes in all students having the ability to be successful; no matter the obstacles. Congratulations Connie and thank you!
Brian Frantz is a science teacher at the Career and Technical Education Center at OHM BOCES, and is also in his second year of the master teacher program. Brian has been busy enhancing all CTE program curricula with science content. Upon the initial school closing in mid-March, he created an assignment regarding types of viruses and shared an article for all students detailing pathways to help 'flatten the curve'. This served as an introduction to COVID-19 for many students and helped alleviate potential fears. Additionally, Brian began working in the school's FAB lab to help facilitate the production and assembly of over 300 3D-printed face shields. This protective equipment is currently being utilized by local medical professionals making the sacrifice to keep others healthy and safe. Congratulations Brian and thank you!
Dr. Linda R. Weber
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Dr. Linda R. Weber is a Professor of Sociology at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. She strives to push her students to excel in their academic life as well as helping them to get ready for the real world. During these challenging times, Dr. Weber continues to go above and beyond while staying connected to her students. Her interests include: interpersonal trust, social capital, applied/clinical sociology, sociology of health and illness and symbolic interactionism. Dr. Weber has written several publications: Weber L. (2012.) “Self at the Heart of Trust: The Global Relevance of an Interactionist Understanding of Trust as a Form of Association.” Sasaki, Masamichi and Marsh, Robert M. (eds.) Trust: Comparative Perspectives. The Netherlands:Brill, just to name a few. Her nominator is proud of her dedication and commitment and wishes to express her appreciation for all that she does for education and our community!
When I sit back to reflect on teachers at Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School that meet the criteria for going above and beyond their duties to make a positive impact on the lives of their students, I cannot pick just one or two teachers. Over the past 8 weeks, I've witnessed a teacher sing over the rainbow with a guitar to his students, a teacher drive around to her students houses and beep the horn just to see the students smile, another teacher deliver groceries to a family in need, another created a silly video filled with jokes, and yet several others drop off goodie packets to students to lift the student spirits. These are just a small example of the wonderful memories teachers are creating with our students. Teachers at FSES go beyond the teaching and learning and truly touch the lives of our students and families. It is an honor to work with this wonderful group of educators.
Oriskany Jr./Sr. High School
Mrs. Musacchio has been a great inspiration in my high school career. She is always there for us and really cares about her students. She is a true professional. (Mrs. Musacchio was nominated by one of her students).
Staff of P-TECH
Oneida Herkimer-Madison BOCES
I'd like to nominate the staff of P-TECH OHM at OHM BOCES for their incredible contributions to our students and community during the recent events surrounding the global pandemic we are all facing. Although it has caused disruptions in the traditional ways of educating, these true heroes have risen above their current circumstances. Our STEM teacher has collaborated with one of our business partners, Trenton Technology, and CTE staff to create face shields in our FAB Lab that have been donated to medical facilities in our region. To date, they have produced 365 shields. Students have received meals sent to their homes by our math teacher and her family. Our English teacher offered to purchase every student a book from Barnes and Noble to “escape” from the reality of COVID-19. Although our social studies teacher and his wife just welcomed their second child into their family during the quarantine, he is still delivering instruction that leverages technology and student engagement through innovative approaches to teaching. Our school counselor has sent postcards to every student with a special message and implemented spirit week to promote positivity among students and staff. Our science teacher is hosting meetings to promote socialization among students by connecting their passion for scientific knowledge. The resource teacher holds daily sessions with students and parents to offer additional support for every subject area. Our social worker makes contacts with families all throughout the day to provide assistance anyway she can. Health and physical education teachers are supporting students’ physical and social-emotional wellbeing. Together, this team has provided an education that goes beyond just academics. They are essential to our organization, the students we serve, and the community we live in.
Utica City School District
Cortney Olmstead has worked for the Utica City School District since 2011. For the past five years, she has been a teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary. She currently teaches grade five but has taught first and third grade in the past. Miss Olmstead is an enthusiastic teacher who puts her heart into her lessons and instruction. She is always up for a challenge and is willing to do what it takes to make sure her students learn grade level skills and concepts. Miss Olmstead has taken on distance learning with great determination and interest. She spends her days reaching out to her students to ensure they are signing into her Google Classroom, engaging in new instruction and completing lessons. Spending an hour on an individual phone call to ensure that a struggling student understands a lesson is something Miss Olmstead does regularly. Although her students and colleagues get to see her via ZOOM, they all miss her high energy and fun personality.
Star Day Care teachers
The families at Eastern Star Day Care feel so lucky that they have a caring group of teachers providing the foundation necessary for the kids at Eastern Star to learn and thrive in their environment. We would like to nominate the entire staff at Eastern Star Day Care for making such an amazing difference in our children’s lives. They are a well-trained and educated staff that provide a loving and learning atmosphere to meet the needs of every individual child. Young working families often struggle to find the right learning environment for their children. We are very fortunate to have the teachers who care about our kids as if they are their own. Thank you!! – Families of Eastern Star Day Care from past and present.
Janet Jury is a New Visions teacher at the Career and Technical Education Center at OHM BOCES. As part of the curriculum in this course for college-bound students, Mrs. Jury also teaches government and economics through vibrant, entertaining lessons to engage students. Additionally, she instructs students in four sections of dual credit courses. During the school shutdown, Mrs. Jury has been challenged not only with maintaining the rigor of New Visions but also with providing content to replace the internships that students are now unable to attend. Mrs. Jury has immersed herself in learning to utilize online platforms for instruction. Throughout the school closure, she continues to send encouraging messages to her students to support them in these difficult times while keeping them on their regular schedule as she continues pushing them forward in their academic journeys. On the day of Governor Cuomo's announcement extending the closure through the remainder of the school year, Mrs. Jury's inbox was inundated with student messages lamenting their lost opportunity to complete their senior year in her classroom. Mrs. Jury will be retiring at the end of this school year and her positive influence on her colleagues will be felt for years to come.
Jason Evangelist, Superintendent
Holland Patent Central School District
The Teachers and Support Staff at Holland Patent Central Schools are doing an amazing job making the district's remote learning experiences effective and successful. Our teachers have overcome every obstacle in their way to continue to meet our students’ need during this challenging, and often changing time. They have committed themselves to not only learn new technology, but also to become efficient and incorporate it effectively into their lessons. Although this transition has not been without its challenges, I can confidently say they have met all the challenges head on. The Holland Patent Teachers are very talented, resourceful, compassionate and dedicated educators who always put our students’ best interests in mind no matter what is thrown at them. We are very lucky to have them on our Team and I thank each one of them!
Vernon-Verona-Sherrill School District
Chris Carr is an Earth Science teacher in the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School. He has gone above and beyond for his students during this period of remote learning and is certainly an example of an exemplary teacher in our region. Mr. Carr maintains instruction by pushing out recorded lessons to the students and holding regular Google Meets. He created a home video for the daily morning greeting at the high school, and he has taken his students on virtual field trips. Mr. Carr visited several geological features in Central New York and created videos to share with his students as they continued their learning. He has worked hard to maintain a continuity of instruction and is making the best of this situation.
Utica City School District
Mirnesa Kadic is an English as a New Language Teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary. Mrs. Kadic has been a teacher in the Utica City School District since 2010 and she has spent the past five years teaching at King. When she is not planning lessons and teaching her kindergarten, first grade and fifth grade students how to speak, read, understand, and write in English, Mrs. Kadic is involved in the school’s social committee, school leadership team, and family events planning. Her students describe her as helpful, supportive, friendly, and understanding.
They say she has high expectations and she pushes them to do their best every day. Mrs. Kadic’s colleagues describe her as committed, kind, knowledgeable, and supportive. She always goes above and beyond to acknowledge her colleagues and celebrate them in very special ways with her beautiful creations and gorgeous bouquets. Mrs. Kadic makes MLK a great place for students and staff.
Herkimer County Community College
Dr. Jennifer Adjodha-Evans, assistant professor of biology at Herkimer County Community College, has gone above and beyond in support of her students during this extremely challenging time. Dr. Adjodha-Evans teaches multiple sections of Anatomy and Physiology, including the associated laboratories. When students were no longer able to attend classes on campus, she made the commitment to bring those experiences to them by creating an interactive environment where she live streams her classes to her students. This requires her to come to campus several days a week, enduring long hours to deliver her lessons in a manner than allows students to participate in real-time experiences. Anatomy and Physiology is an extremely challenging subject that provides students a critical foundation for future study and career. Dr. Adjodha-Evans’ dedication and commitment allows students to actively participate and seek clarification where needed. Her efforts are a reminder of her tremendous commitment to her students and her craft.
Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES
Heidi VanDerMeulen is more than a Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired. As a student advocate for over 15 years working at the Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES, she goes above and beyond for her students. She has taught in Whitesboro, NY Mills, Mt. Markham, Frankfort, Central Valley, Sauquoit, Westmoreland, New Hartford, Waterville, and VVS School Districts, earning the admiration of students, parents, staff, and administration in every place she has taught. An example of this is when she arranged for a blind high school student to fly independently to the NASA Summer Space Camp, where the student excelled. She relentlessly insists that her students reach their full potential, sometimes believing in their talents more than the students themselves. She is seen as an expert and often called on by districts and colleagues to provide advice and guidance on how best to reach students that face challenges. Her colleagues would agree that she is a true professional, worthy of recognition.
Oneida School District
Linda Buschatzke is a second grade teacher at Seneca Street Elementary School (Oneida) who has managed to flip her positive, nurturing and structured learning environment into the digital world! Her daily use of Google classroom to engage students has helped them maintain consistency in their education but has also made them feel “at home” with each other. This feeling of belonging is so important for these kids and their excitement to be together shows just how much it is helping. Linda has worked hard to maintain equity for those without digital access, ensuring that those students are still connected in every way. She has also brought STEAM education to the students remotely by partnering with a local college professor. Students have weekly sessions where they have helped perform experiments, watched chicks hatch, observed tadpoles develop and even built engineering projects at home. Linda works tirelessly every day for both her own family and her Seneca Street family, and her school-wide video creations are bringing students and faculty together in words and song—she is truly a role model of calm in this time of disruption!
Casandra "Cassie" Holmes
Whitesboro Central School District
Her classroom goal is to "change the world." For 37 years, Cassie has positively impacted the lives of her students. She began her career in Kansas, then to Rome, NY and finally to the Whitesboro Central School district where she's taught 3rd grade for the past 20 years. Cassie cares greatly for her students and always goes above and beyond to put in the time and effort to have the greatest impact possible on their educational experience. She has coached Cheerleading and High School Girls' Volleyball in which the won the league and came in second for states. Recently, she has coached in a cross-fit program in Rome. Cassie has done a great job while teaching from a remote location during the pandemic and traversing this difficult terrain with poise and grace. Cassie is an extraordinary educator who believes that her students have the ability to be successful. Cassie, yes....you have changed the world simply by caring about every student that has passed through your classroom and by providing them with a quality education, and for that, we thank you!
Mark Peavey is an Agriculture Teacher at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School. Besides performing his normal academic duties, agriculture outside the classroom needed to continue even when school closed and students were no longer permitted to participate on school grounds. The maple sap collecting, processing, packaging, distributing, taking down taps, and cleaning the sap house were all completed by Mr. Peavey without students to help. As students rely on income from their VVS Pure Maple Syrup sales to fund projects and trips, Mr. Peavey continued to sell and ship orders for the students by appointment and special requests. Shipping orders meant packing the product and taking trips to the Verona United States Postal Office to send the products to out-of-state customers. He made a plexiglass sneeze guard for safely delivering retail pickup orders. In addition, he worked to make sure FFA bills were paid and deposits were made without the assistance of FFA student officers. Mr. Peavey works tirelessly for his students and the continuation of the agriculture and FFA programs during the pandemic. VVS is fortunate to have the dedication of Mr. Mark Peavey, and I am proud to recommend this amazing teacher for the Genesis Group Teacher Appreciation Recognition.
Herkimer County Community College
Grace Ashline, a human services instructor at Herkimer County Community College, has shown overwhelming commitment to her students in the Human Services program. In addition to her tremendous dedication and energy in the classroom, Ashline maintains a close relationship with her students and was instantly aware of the toll COVID-19 and the corresponding upheaval had on them and their communities. Professor Ashline created a private support group on Facebook that was designed to be a method of connection for students within the program. She also solicited imagery from her students and worked to create a video to honor their perseverance during challenging and uncertain times. Not to be outdone, she also scheduled dedicated advising times and created targeted advisement materials to support students in their continued study and remove anxiety for fall planning. It is because of this and so much more that Grace Ashline deserves to be acknowledged for her tireless efforts in support of students and their learning.
Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES
Kelle Kirkland has been part of the Academic Itinerant Division at Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES for over 11 years. As a Family and Consumer Science (Home and Careers) in the New York Mills and Westmoreland School Districts as well as the BOCES Middle Settlement Academy, her willingness to collaborate and contribute to the schools she teaches in has been exemplary. She has decorated school foyers, made costumes and props for school musicals, and guided her students in supporting numerous non-profits with their talents and treasure. She is adamant about creating programs that teach more than just her subject, but skills for life. She has been known to take students to visit colleges and help them fill out applications. If a student is in need, she is there to mentor, support and guide them in any way possible. She embodies the idea that every student can be successful and gives of herself so that students can reach their goals.
Vernon Verona Sherrill Central School District
It is our pleasure to nominate Mr. Alex Rose, Math AIS Teacher at EA McAllister Elementary of the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School District, to be recognized by the Genesis Group. He is an educator that always goes above and beyond to make a positive impact on the lives of students. Although Mr. Rose’s official roster for his Math AIS courses represents only a portion of the student population, Mr. Rose is a beloved teacher by all students and colleagues at McAllister. Mr. Rose is the teacher you want your own child to have. He makes the most of every moment of the instructional day, engaging students in learning from the moment they step into his presence to the moment they leave him. You will often see Mr. Rose escorting a small group of students down the hallway, and if you listen closely, you’ll realize they are completely immersed in a Math lesson as they walk! Mr. Rose is an extraordinary instructional designer and his delivery provides flexible learning opportunities for students. He goes out of his way to meet with students before and after the school day ends, in hallways, pushing into classrooms, and now during this time of remote learning, from behind a computer screen. His technology innovation has engaged even the most disengaged students during this challenging time of not being able to meet with our student one-on-one. Mr. Rose is a collaborative teacher that is dedicated to working with his colleagues to provide the best possible education to McAllister students. He frequently leads professional development opportunities to support his VVS teacher colleagues and is constantly moving the VVS program forward. Above all, Alex is a wonderful person. He is intelligent, kind, compassionate, and fun-loving; exactly the kind of teacher our students deserve.
On behalf of the Wettel Community, we are writing to recognize Mrs. Kathie Whipple, School Social Worker for WA Wettel Elementary School in the Vernon Verona Sherrill CSD, for her outstanding contributions...especially during this current challenge.
Over the last several weeks, during this crisis, Mrs. Whipple has been exemplary in her work with students, families, teachers and staff. Though very acclimated to being on call at all times, Mrs. Whipple has been especially busy serving and helping to heal our community during this unprecedented time. When needed, Mrs. Whipple has reached out to families, using her gentle persuasion, to assist them in connecting their children to and participating in virtual learning experiences. When necessary, she has dropped off materials or supplies to families in need. And at a time when faculty and staff are also struggling, largely due to their absence from students and the challenge of a very new and at times frustrating learning environment, she has been an empathic sounding board. Mrs. Whipple best represents the core of who we are as educators. Without her tremendous efforts and caring heart, we could not have accomplished what we have. Thank you Mrs. Whipple!!
Dr. Michael B. McCarthy
Michael McCarthy, Ph.D., is an Assistance Professor and Director of Data Science at Utica Colllege. Dr. McCarthy is all about "service" especially to and for others. Dr. McCarthy served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2007 as an aviation officer and Blackhawk pilot. He concluded his Army tenure serving at Training and Doctrine Command where he was part of a team analyzing future warfare and global trends that will affect the United States and its military in the next five decades. Dr. McCarthy also worked as an analyst for a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He performed quantitative and qualitative analysis to improve inpatient and outpatient clinic flow, quantitative demographic analysis for strategic planning, coached and led Lean Six Sigma projects, and served as an innovation specialist. Dr. McCarthy received a B.S. degree in Geographic Information Systems, United States Military Academy at West Point. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Geography at the University of North Carolina. Dr. McCarthy enjoys being involved in the community. He is currently working with The Genesis Group and their Data Analytics Task Force. We are so appreciative for all he does. Utica College and the Mohawk Valley are fortunate to have him here! Thank you Dr. McCarthy.
Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School
Kevin Morrisroe enjoys a professional career panning 39 years, and currently serves as Department Chair and teacher overseeing the Theology and Mathematics programs in support of Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School. The breadth of Kevin's unselfishness is extraordinary. He has immersed himself in a variety of student-centered activities and organizations such Cross Country coach, Mathematics Club moderator, graduation speaker, chaperone on various school activities, and School Board Teacher Representative. Innovative in thought, meticulous in planning, and aggressive in execution, Kevin stands as an exemplary role model of courtesy, dedication, and comportment for peers and students alike.
Utica City School District
Michele Diliberto has taught for the Utica City School District for more than twenty-five years, sharing her career between Kernan, John F. Hughes, and H. R. Jones elementary schools. She has been involved with the Green Team at Jones Elementary for many years and helps coordinate an annual clean -up event with students at the Utica Zoo. She also serves on the School Based Intervention Team and Faculty Affairs Committee. Her nominator writes, "As a parent it is very rewarding to know that I have someone who cares about my child's needs. Yes, she is there to educate her, but Mrs. Diliberto does more. She offers guidance, direction, patience, understanding, and, most of all, her ability to listen. She is an inspiration for my child and all children who are fortunate enough to have her as a teacher."
Mohawk Valley Community College
After a twenty-year career with the NY State Police, Mr. Troy Little has brought his practical insights into an academic setting as the Director of Law Enforcement Programs and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Mohawk Valley Community College. His enthusiasm and high level of professional competence in all facets of faculty and administrative responsibility is complemented by his teaching effectiveness, continual professional development, exemplary collegiality, passionate leadership and generous public service. He leads in the implementation of the college's Achieving the Dream Network and has been selected to serve on the college-wide Diversity Council.
Heather Boucher Zieno
Mohawk Valley Community College
Tirelessly working with some of the most challenging students, Heather Boucher Zieno is a teacher in a 6:1:2 classroom at the House of the Good Shepherd's Tilton School. Organized, dedicated, and dynamic, she is the person behind the scenes who ensures that activities for the students run smoothly and successfully. Ms. Boucher Zieno provides a structured and caring learning environment for her students and takes the time to reflect on how to improve herself as an educator, ultimately improving the educational experience for her students.
PROUD SPONSORS OF THIS INITIATIVE:
First Source Federal Credit Union . WKTV News Channel 2 . Observer-Dispatch . The Rome Sentinel . The Genesis Group
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