The SUNY New Paltz School of Education recognized seven teachers around the area for this year’s Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
This year’s recipients are Kimberly Dunkin of Furnace Woods Elementary, David Brown of Horizons-on-the-Hudson Magnet School, Kim Di Curcio of Pine Tree Elementary School, Jaime Ferrari of Furnace Woods Elementary School, Craig Fryer of Millbrook Middle School and High School, Genevieve Privitera of Pakanasink Elementary School and Robin Scott of Berea Elementary School.
Criteria for this award required teachers to have made a significant impact on students’ lives, on their learning outcomes and growth and to the school environment.
Teachers who receive this annual award are recommended by area school administrators and selected by a committee of education faculty and professionals, according to the SUNY New Paltz website.
The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching honors excellence, innovation, service, professionalism, commitment and enthusiasm. It acknowledges the integral role that teachers play in communities where they foster the ideals of learning, inquiry and the primacy of education as a foundation for intellectual, social and economic well-being, according to a SUNY New Paltz press release.
Scott, a teacher at Berea Elementary for 16 years, questioned the award when she first heard the news that she was chosen.
“To be very honest with you, when I received a letter from New Paltz stating that I won the award, I didn’t know what the award was or what it was for,” Scott said. “I almost thought it was a joke. I looked it up on the internet and to my surprise, it was legitimate.”
Scott said after the initial discovery of the award, she was excited that it was initiated by her administration.
“When you think about how busy our administrators are, there is hardly time to write glowing letters, never mind notice the extra work teachers are doing to help children,” Scott said. “I truly appreciate the kind and thoughtful words and letters. I am honored to be in a category with such exceptional educators.”
Ferrari, a teacher for 11 years, also felt honored to have been given the award.
“It’s not every day that you recieve an award for teaching,” Ferrari said. “Being a recipient of this award means a lot. It reminds me that I can affect change and be a positive influence on my students’ lives.”
Ferrari said she was grateful for the award and that it was refreshing to know that her efforts did not go unnoticed. She cited the other teachers she works with as her support system.
“I am lucky to work with many talented and amazing teachers,” she said. “I like to think we learn from each other as we support each other and try to do what’s best for our students. At the end of the day, that’s what truly matters.”
Privitera, a teacher for 17 years, is currently in her seventh year of teaching second grade, and said she was just as honored and humbled to receive the award as any teacher would be.
“There are so many wonderful teachers in our district,” she said. “Each one is dedicated, inspiring and very good at teaching. We all have our own unique style when working with the children in our classes. To be singled out is […] quite amazing.”
Her co-worker, music teacher Paula Orcutt recognizes the work Privitera puts into her classroom.
“Gen is highly respected by colleagues, parents and students and it is a privilege to teach with her,” Orcutt said. “She goes above and beyond what is expected of her to make sure she reaches every child and identifies their learning styles. Children are happy in her classroom and know that Mrs. Privitera is a person who understands and cares for them.”
The School of Education at SUNY New Paltz honors exceptional teachers throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley as part of its objective to recognize and foster excellence, not only among its own alumni, but among the broader community of teachers in the Mid-Hudson Valley, according to the website.
“I think the award itself is a great way to recognize some of the terrific educators we have right here in our own community,” Privitera said. “It was so wonderful to hear the accomplishments of each of the other recipients.”
Privitera said she did not expect an award for her work, and that she does her best, not for herself, but for the “little guys” that she is responsible for everyday.
“I truly did not expect an award, that is for sure” she said. “I do what I do because I absolutely love it.”