ALBANY, N.Y., October 16, 2008 - The 2008 New York State Teacher of the Year, Richard Ognibene, a science teacher at Fairport High School, will receive a $10,000 award from the Horace Mann Companies and national recognition as a finalist for the NEA Foundation's "Award for Teaching Excellence."
Ognibene's nomination was made by New York State United Teachers, NEA's state affiliate in the Empire State. He was one of 36 public school educators nominated to receive the national award in 2009. Ognibene and the others will be honored at the "Salute to Excellence in Education Gala," to be held Feb. 6, 2009 in Washington, D.C.
The awards recognize educators from across the nation for their instructional innovation, advocacy for the profession, community engagement, attention to diversity and leadership skills.
Ognibene is a veteran of 23 years in the classroom, the last 16 at Fairport HS. He has served the Fairport Education Association, his local union, as vice president and as a building representative. He mentors new science teachers and works with class officers. Ognibene also advises the district's Gay Straight Alliance, which focuses on students with sexual orientation issues and is a leader in the Fairport Brotherhood-Sisterhood week, which encourages civility and respect for all people.
"This award does an excellent job of putting the spotlight on teachers who know how to communicate with and inspire students," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Rich Ognibene is a role model for his profession, inside and outside the classroom."
"New York's classrooms are filled with dedicated professionals," said Maria Neira, NYSUT vice president. "Rich's commitment to his students as learners and as young adults is another example of the vital role educators play every day in schools across our state."
The nonprofit NEA Foundation offers grants and programs that salute excellence in education, support efforts to close the achievement gaps, increase classroom innovation and provide professional development. It was created in 1969 by members of the National Education Association and is sustained by contributions from educators, corporate sponsors and other supporters of public education.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.