May 01, 2010

Teacher of Year: Cuts equal 'heartbreak'

Source: RA 2010
Teacher of Year Debra Calvino

Debra Calvino

As a math teacher for nearly 30 years, state Teacher of the Year Debra Calvino certainly believes in the power of numbers.

"I know the power of numbers," the Valley Central High School teacher told RA delegates, paying tribute to the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are so dedicated in their classrooms every day. "I know those numbers afford New York's students the excellent opportunities that they deserve."

So in a year when budget cuts are threatening the jobs of thousands of teachers statewide, Calvino spoke passionately about the need for the state to continue its investment in our children's future.

"This funding crisis is heartbreaking," Calvino said. "It's hard to say how much impact budget cuts will have this year, but I know that for each number, there is a face and a name."

As department supervisor in her Orange County district, Calvino knows those names: Katrina, Krystinna and Pam. "It breaks my heart to think that these young teachers will not have the opportunity to try to meet the needs of those students because we did not find a way to invest in the future," Calvino said. And with fewer teachers, she worries about the next generation of students, "whose needs are multiplying exponentially as we face an overwhelming funding crisis.

"Without the adequate funding for education that our students deserve, our jobs as educators are going to be even harder," Calvino said.

"And yet despite our jobs being harder, I know we will step up every day to define excellence because that is our calling as teachers."