Engaged, knowledgeable and enthusiastic teachers have the potential to incalculably transform the lives of students. Their passion for a subject can inspire a pupil to pursue further study and to develop skills that lay the foundation for future inquiry and innovation. This is especially true in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Jobs in these fields are currently the areas driving economic growth in the Capital Region and will be instrumental in shaping developments in medicine, sustainable energy and digital technology.
The New York State Master Teachers Program recognizes outstanding STEM educators by offering an annual $15,000 stipend in exchange for “a commitment to engage in professional development work in addition to their regular school responsibilities.” This commitment takes many forms. Master Teachers participate in “mini-courses” on urgently relevant topics such as climate change, the safety of genetically modified foods and hydraulic fracturing. Program members also participate in monthly cohort meetings where they collaborate, learn, share and reflect with a group of their peers. This collaborative space allows Master Teachers a forum to discuss strategies for introducing these topics in their classrooms.
As part of their commitment to “engage in professional development work,” Master Teachers share knowledge of cutting edge content and pedagogical insights with teaching colleagues in their home districts and beyond. CASDA’s Nov-STEM-ber Saturday sessions offer motivated educators the opportunity to learn from the Master Teacher cohort and develop strategies to integrate relevant subject material into a STEM curriculum that challenges and empowers students. CASDA has also helped facilitate a fruitful partnership between the Capital Region’s Master Teacher cohort and teacher leaders working within the Strengthening Teacher Leadership Effectiveness program within the Washington County School District Collaborative. CASDA faculty have connected teacher leaders working in STEM classrooms with Master Teachers for mentoring and instructional coaching.
A spirit of learning and collaboration among motivated professionals drives the Master Teacher program. These values, coupled with professional development opportunities facilitated by organizations like CASDA and the University at Albany, enable STEM educators to bring knowledge and practice shared by New York’s Master Teachers to their classrooms throughout the region.