March 27, 2015

Two New York state teachers selected for induction into the National Teachers Hall of Fame

Source: NYSUT Media Relations
hall of fame


ALBANY, N.Y. March 27, 2015 - Two New York educators - both NYSUT members - learned Friday they will be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2015.

Richard T. Ognibene, a chemistry and physics teacher at Fairport High School near Rochester, and Patricia Jordan, who taught high school math for 29 years on Long Island and in New York City and is now retired from the classroom, will be inducted on June 12 in Emporia, Kan.

Each was surprised with news of the prestigious honor during special school assemblies in Fairport and the Bronx earlier this afternoon.

"New York state has long been recognized for its excellent public school teaching force and Richard Ognibene and Patricia Jordan represent the gold standard of our profession," said New York State United Teachers President Karen E. Magee. "They are the best of the best and it is NYSUT's privilege to have them as members."

Both Jordan and Ognibene are former New York State Teachers of the Year, honored in 1993 and 2008, respectively.

Ognibene was also the recipient of the 2002 American Chemical Society Teacher of the Year Award and the 2006 Fairport High School Crystal Apple Award for excellence in teaching. He has served as an adviser to his district's Gay Straight Alliance and is an active member of the Fairport Educators Association.

A retired member of the Roslyn Teachers Association, Jordan's classroom experience also includes teaching computer science and special education. Following her retirement, she became a practicing clinical psychologist. She also co-founded and administers the Juanita James Memorial Scholarship Foundation, established in memory of her mother. The organization provides financial assistance and mentoring to college students from housing projects in the Bronx, of which Jordan is a native.

Aside from being outstanding educators, Ognibene and Jordan have been dedicated advocates for public school students and teachers.

In 2011, they stood together on the steps of the State Education Department building to voice their concern over changes made to the state's Annual Professional Performance Review system. During that appearance, they warned that using a single state standardized test to account for 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation posed "great harm" to both students and educators.

Ognibene is also one of seven teachers intervening on NYSUT's behalf in the lawsuit challenging the state's tenure statute. Earlier this year, he co-authored along with six other former state Teachers of the Year, an open letter to Gov. Cuomo, expressing regret that the governor had chosen to demonize teachers. The piece was run as an op-ed in the Albany Times Union under the headline, "You Made It Personal: We Are Not the Enemy."

"Richard Ognibene and Patricia Jordan exemplify the professionalism of our union and the dedication and commitment our members have for their students, profession and the future of public education," said Magee. "While our union is hardly surprised by their latest accomplishment, NYSUT could not be more proud."

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.