June 08, 2013

Teachers of the Year stand in support of their profession

Author: Deb Ward
Source: NYSUT Communications
teachers of the year
Caption: L-R Teachers of the Years Jeff Peneston, Katie Ferguson, Deb Calvino, Marguerite Izzo and Richard Ognibene, Jr.
Richard Ognibene Jr., Teacher of the Year 2008, speaks passionately on behalf of his fellow “teachers of the year” and colleagues statewide as he delivers a heartfelt and poignant address at the "One Voice United" rally, asking to restore joy to teaching and learning.

“The obsession with testing and data has reduced instructional time for our most vulnerable students and diminished our humanity,” Ognibene says. Teachers are so consumed with SLOs and data that we have “no time to spend with kids. They have taken the joy from our profession.”

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira had welcomed the teachers of the year earlier to the rally stage: Ognibene, Marguerite Izzo, Malverne TA; Katie Ferguson, Schenectady FT; Jeff Peneston, United Liverpool FA; and Deb Calvino, Valley Central TA.

“We’ve each had the opportunity to advocate for students and teachers” and raise concerns about “the testing industrial complex that dominates our schools,” Ognibene says about the roles teachers of the year have in New York state.

“We speak with one voice,” Ognibene says. “We tell Chancellor Tisch and Commissioner King that real reform will not come from top-down policies and excessive high-stakes testing. Rather, real reform must come from the bottom up, based on trust and collaboration with the practitioners in the field.”

“We speak,” he says, “because we are more than teachers of record, we are teachers of the whole child!”