Dana McDonough, a second-grade teacher at the elementary school she attended herself, has been named 2016 New York State Teacher of the Year.
McDonough, who has been teaching first or second grade in the Newburgh City School District for her entire 22-year career, currently teaches second-graders at Fostertown ETC Magnet School. She is a member of the Newburgh Teachers Association.
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia noted McDonough's commitment to family involvement is evident in almost all she does as an educator. In addition to meeting with the families of each of her incoming students, often at their homes, McDonough has created programs to provide tools for parents to enable them to better support their children through the curriculum. She also emails parents weekly with updates about lessons and activities to nurture that essential partnership.
"Dana McDonough has been described as a 'teacher's teacher,' a child-centered professional who values teaching and learning above all, and an educator who readily shares her knowledge and experience with her colleagues," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee.
"When I met you what struck me is the way you are embedded in the community," NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino told McDonough. "You were raised in Newburgh and after you entered the teaching profession, what you wanted to do is give back to the community — the way so many teachers are dedicated to giving back to the community."
McDonough, who called being named Teacher of the Year "a gift of a year of professional development beyond belief," said she was inspired to go into the profession by an aunt who was a teacher. "My aunt said they may not always remember what you teach them, but they'll always remember how you made them feel," McDonough said.
She said she strives for a class culture of learning, safety and giving her students a voice.
McDonough is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and a Master of Science in Education with a Reading Specialization.
In the coming year, McDonough will serve as an ambassador for teachers throughout the state and will be the New York state nominee for National Teacher of the Year.
Finalists for the 2016 New York State Teacher of the Year included: Michael Comet, a high school science teacher and South Lewis TA member; Deborah Minchin, a high school social studies teacher and New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees member; Jason Steinagle, a middle school social studies teacher and Hamburg TA member; and Sandra Taylor, a high school French teacher and Skaneateles TA member.