Two area teachers were recently honored as part of the inaugural class of New York state Master Teachers.
Tim Cook, who teaches 11th-grade Regents chemistry, 12th-grade physics and AP chemistry at Sherman Central School, and Lon Knappenberger, who teaches 12th-grade anatomy; 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade zoology; 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade biotechnology techniques; and animal behavior via distance learning at Westfield Academy and Central School, are among 29 Western New York teachers to be recognized.
The New York State Master Teacher Program was established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to identify the best math and science teachers in the state as well as create a way for those teachers to help their fellow teachers. Eligible teachers must be ranked highly effective under the state evaluation system, have at least four years' experience and teach math and science in sixth through 12th grades.
Master Teachers receive a $15,000 stipend per year over four years for participation in the program, with total compensation of $60,000 per fellow. The 2013-14 state budget included $11 million for the program - $1 million to the SUNY colleges that serve as regional hubs and $10 million for the stipends. That money will be spent on peer mentoring and professional development in math and science. The Master Teachers will also work closely with new teachers and those not yet certified, hopefully speeding up the learning curve for those new teachers.
It is good not only that the state recognizes such wonderful teachers, but that there is a mechanism in place to use teachers such as Cook and Knappenberger as examples in their respective regions of the state. Officials in both the Sherman and Westfield school districts should be proud to have such dedicated and creative teachers in their midst.