Christopher Albrecht, a fourth-grade teacher at the Fred W. Hill School in Brockport, has been named 2018 New York State Teacher of the Year.
State education leaders praised Albrecht's deep involvement in both his school and his community.
Albrecht has mentored numerous student teachers and several first-year teachers, eager to spread his passion for the profession.
In May, SUNY Brockport honored him with for his work supporting teacher candidates in the college's Childhood Inclusive Education program. He was later invited to be the keynote speaker at the college's Student Teaching Conference Day.
In his 20 years at Brockport, Albrecht has served on English language arts curriculum development committees, and founded the Hill School Spelling Bee and the Hill School Yearbook Committee, which he still advises. Albrecht also coached high school baseball for 14 years and soccer for five years.
In 2015, Albrecht began an after-school running program for fourth and fifth grade students with a focus on building self-confidence among all students, including those with special needs. This team has grown from five to 19 students with all completing three months of training and a 5K road race in downtown Rochester.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango commended Albrecht's ability to connect with families. "His work in the classroom embodies what it means to create a true community and school partnership," she said. "The students and families that nominated him feel like he's a part of their family."
"I have joy in my heart because I am a teacher," Albrecht told the Regents as he was presented with the award in September. "I believe it is a great time to be a teacher."
Albrecht, a Brockport Teachers Association member, praised his longtime teaching partner Amy Stoker and teacher aide Lisa Kennedy for helping to create a joyous learning environment. "It takes a team to run a classroom," he said.
Albrecht said he was inspired by two special teachers when he was a youngster at Brooks Hill Elementary School in Fairport: first grade teacher Linda Pirello (now deceased) and his fifth grade teacher Jim Karg (who attended his wedding and was one of the first people Albrecht told about his state award).
In the coming year, Albrecht will serve as an ambassador for teachers throughout the state and will be the New York State nominee for the National Teacher of the Year.
Albrecht has made it clear he doesn't want to just talk to adult audiences. He wants to visit schools around the state, read to the kids and distribute books he is purchasing with the award money he received.
He also plans to encourage educators to take the time to teach the value of community service. "A world without charity is a hollow place," he said, noting that students need to learn that "charity, generosity and gratitude are the glue that holds our society together."
Finalists for the 2018 New York State Teacher of the Year were:
- Brian Sztabnik, an English and Advanced Placement teacher at Miller Place High School and Miller Place TA member;
- Rosa Ismail, an English as a New Language teacher at Fort Salonga Elementary School and Kings Park Classroom TA member;
- Mary Howard, an English language arts and social studies teacher at Veronica E. Connor Middle School and Grand Island TA member; and
- Commack TA's Christina Pawlowski, who teaches AP and college level mathematics at Commack High.