11 Island instructors join New York’s ‘master’ ranks

Master class: New York State has anointed 214 new "master teachers," including 11 from Long Island.

The New York State Master Teacher Program has opened its books to welcome a host of new instructors, including 11 representing Long Island school districts.

With a heavy focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the statewide professional network – which seeks to identify and reward the state’s best K-12 instructors – has added 214 additional “masters,” including 26 with STEM-content certifications and 14 others certified in “technology education,” covering a range of computer science and tech courses.

Long Island’s newest “master teachers” include Neel Chugh (Great Neck Union Free School District), Andrea Durbin (West Babylon Union Free School District), Kerri Grunenwald (Westhampton Beach Union Free School District) and Jessica Chilton and David Kommor (both of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District).

Also honored: Kimberly King (Commack Union Free School District), Nicholas Lorenzen (Copiague Union Free School District), AnnMarie Mills (Islip Union Free School District), Kristen Rozell (Northport-East Northport Union Free School District), Meghan Schmiedecke (Kings Park Central School District) and Agnieszka Taciak (Middle Country Central School District).

A complete list of the 214 new members honored Wednesday is available here.

In announcing the new “masters,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo saluted teams of educators working to “shape and inspire the next generation of Empire State leaders.”

The new inductees – who teach STEM classes including courses on the advanced-placement, honors, Regents and International Baccalaureate levels – have been in the teaching profession an average of 13 years, according to the governor’s office. One in 10 has been teaching for more than two decades.

Kristina Johnson: Fanning the flames of STEM passion.

In addition to instructing individual classes, many have developed interdisciplinary STEM courses in their districts and leveraged various community resources “to encourage more students to pursue STEM studies and careers,” the governor’s office said.

Many also serve as curriculum department leaders or on district committees, and are sponsors of STEM clubs, “science Olympiad” competitions and robotics teams, in addition to PTA duties and other school-related service.

During a four-year run in NYS Master Teacher Program, the new “master teachers” will receive annual bonuses of $15,000 and a host of other advantages, including peer monitoring and other network-based professional-development benefits.

The statewide program “continues to show New York’s commitment to developing a strong relationship with educators who are dedicated to their craft, act as leaders for colleagues and other industry professionals, and incite passion for STEM learning for their students,” SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson said in a statement.

The Master Teacher Program is hosted regionally at a SUNY campus – in Long Island’s case, Stony Brook University – to leverage the expertise of each university’s faculty and educator-preparation programs.

Including the new inductees, Long Island now boasts 103 “master teachers” – fourth among the state’s 10 economic-development zones, behind the Capital Region (131), the Southern Tier (117) and the Finger Lakes region (108).

The latest round of inductees brings the total number of educators in the NYS Master Teacher Program, which launched in 2013, to 908.

The next round of “master teacher” nominations/applications is scheduled to open Feb. 24, 2018.