ALBANY, N.Y. September 13, 2011 – New York State United Teachers today applauded the selection of Schenectady City School District second-grade teacher Kathleen Ferguson as the 2012 New York State Teacher of the Year, saying her passion for instruction, strong stand against bullying and empathy for students makes her "a model teacher who represents the very best of what our profession has to offer students."
"In a state where teaching excellence is commonplace, Kathleen Ferguson stands out," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Her caring and dedication; commitment to improving literacy among her students; and the enthusiasm in which she mentors student-teachers and beginning teachers make her a very worthy recipient to represent all teachers as the next New York State Teacher of the Year. Her union stands proudly with her, and congratulates her."
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira noted that Ferguson has high expectations for her students. "She sets high goals, and tells all of her students, 'You are going to college.' She strongly believes – as all teachers do – that every child can learn at high levels. She backs that up by holding them, and herself, accountable for high levels of achievement."
Neira also credited Ferguson for taking a strong stand against school bullying. "Kathleen clearly understands that, no matter the origin, bullying affects a child's life and that teachers have a critical role in stopping bullying whenever, wherever and however they can. That is an important message," Neira said.
New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said he met with all of Schenectady's teachers last week. "I was struck by the dedication, passion and enthusiasm for teaching of everyone in the room. Kathleen Ferguson embodies all those qualities as the New York State Teacher of the Year. Kathleen believes in what she does and she embraces the vital role teachers have preparing students to be successful in an ever changing world," he said.
Ferguson, who was named Schenectady's 2010 Teacher of the Year, is a 13-year veteran who now works at the Jessie T. Zoller Elementary School. She previously taught first grade at the Martin Luther King Magnet School of Math, Science, Technology and Invention. She is a graduate of SUNY Oneonta.
NYSUT also congratulated five finalists named by the State Education Department. Finalists include:
Danielle Commander, a special education teacher at the Countrywood Primary Center in South Huntington,
Patricia Manchisi, a high school Spanish teacher at Briarcliff High School in Briarcliff,
Suzanne Neske, a high school English teacher at Connetquot High School in Connetquot, and
Therese O'Loughlin, a teacher of grades 1-8 in the Island Trees School District.
NYSUT, the largest union in New York State, represents more than 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees and retirees; academic and professional faculty 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, AFL-CIO.