Recognizing 'Master Teachers"
Program Rewards Math and Science Teachers Who Mentor
Rick Karlin | TimesUnion.com
Top teachers in New York have long been eligible for their share of awards and plaudits, including Teacher of the Year honors and a national certification that brings higher pay.
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, want to up the ante, and on Monday they rolled out a four-year, $60,000 stipend to high-performing science and math teachers willing to serve as mentors and coaches.
"Teachers want to be recognized for excellence," Zimpher said during a governor's cabinet meeting Monday at which she laid out the new "master teacher" program.
Once chosen, these master teachers will work to help other secondary level science and math teachers become more effective.
The initial focus is on science and math due to the urgent nationwide need for students leaving high school with those skills, Zimpher explained. "Math is absolutely necessary," she said. "It walks you right into college."
The program has been launched without much apparent participation from the state's traditional education lobby, primarily comprising the state Department of Education, teachers unions and school boards. State School Boards Association spokesman Dave Albert said they support the concept, although they weren't asked to help design the program.
Nor did the Education Department directly participate.
They, along with the teachers unions and local officials, operate a Teacher of the Year contest. SED also keeps track of a long-standing national certification that teachers can earn for classroom mastery.
Since it started more than a decade ago, approximately 1,500 K-12 teachers in New York received national certification, with 156 earning it in 2012.
They, too, are expected to mentor other teachers.
Under the governor's plan, the first 250 new master teachers will come from four of Cuomo's Economic Development Regions: the Mid-Hudson Valley, North Country, as well as Central and Western New York. The state's remaining six regions will join in during the spring of 2014. By basing it on economic regions, the program aims to underscore the linkage between jobs and education.
As well as SUNY, the program will be operated by the nonprofit Math for America Program.
Math for America was created by former math professor-turned-hedge fund operator-turned philanthropist Jim Simons, a major benefactor to SUNY Stony Brook.
The SUNY campuses hosting the first four groups of master teachers include SUNY Plattsburgh, Buffalo State, SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Cortland.
Eligible teachers must be ranked "highly effective," under the state evaluation system and have at least four years' experience. They must also teach math and science in grades 6 through 12.
Applications will be available July 1; the first round of master teachers will be announced Sept. 1.
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