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SGFHS math teacher named New York State Master Teacher

November 3, 2017

Travis BirkholzTravis Birkholz, a South Glens Falls High School math teacher, was recently named a New York State Master Teacher. NYS Master Teachers are specially designated teachers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subject areas.

Master Teachers are selected from around the state each year. This year, 214 teachers were selected to participate in the program, joining 800 other educators statewide. The new group will be officially appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January 2018. Birkholz joins SGFHS science teachers Colleen Hagadorn, Tammy Mandwelle, Judy Moffitt and Susan Moore-Palumbo, who were named NYS Master Teachers in January 2015.

The program was established in 2014 by Cuomo in collaboration with The State University of New York and Math for America and today includes 500 educators throughout the state. It was developed in response to the call to strengthen our country’s K-12 STEM education.

Individuals who are chosen, through a rigorous application process, are strong classroom teachers with goals for further developing their breadth and depth in the three knowledge areas: knowledge of STEM content, of pedagogy and of their students’ families and communities.

Master Teachers must participate in 50 hours of professional development work in addition to their regular school responsibilities, and meet regularly on evenings and weekends to participate in activities. Master Teachers also participate in leadership workshops to better contribute to departmental discussions and mentor early career and pre-service teachers, and participate in the Empire State STEM Learning Network through regional STEM hubs, partnering with local businesses and agencies to better prepare students for STEM careers, according to the state website.

“This is a great opportunity for personal and professional growth as well as expanding my professional network with other like-minded people, Birkholz said. “I will be able to take what I learn as I improve my craft and bring it to the students in my classroom. This is an excellent opportunity for me to expand, grow and bring new ideas to our math department.”

Birkholz said he became aware of the program from his colleagues in the high school. At the suggestion of Judy Moffitt, his partner teacher in the Math-Science-Technology course that he teaches, Birkholz applied.

“It’s always an honor to see our teachers being recognized for their commitment to improving their craft,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Patton, Ed.D. “On behalf of the district and the board of education, I’d like to extend my congratulations to Travis. His dedication to professional development is appreciated and will ultimately benefit our students in the classroom.”

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