By Caitlin Mack '12/T5'13
At the Singer Family Awards Ceremony on May 18th, four University of Rochester students were able to honor a very special group of people. High school teachers Anne Day, Winifred Crock, Michael Mucci, and Diane Haleas-Hines were all recipients of the University's Singer Family Prize for Excellence in Secondary Teaching, which honors teachers for their significant influence on Rochester's graduating seniors.
All seniors in the College are invited to nominate a high school teacher for consideration for the Singer Family Prize. The four award winners received a plaque and $3,000, as well as $2,500 for their school. This year's Singer Prize recipients also were invited to the University of Rochester's commencement ceremony on May 19 to watch their former students graduate.
"The Paul Singer Family Foundation feels strongly that while devoted secondary school teachers play a vital role in the intellectual development of American society, they often receive little recognition or acclaim for their endeavors," said Gordon Singer, son of Paul Singer '66, who endowed the prize.
Ann Day, chemistry teacher, Thomas J. Corcoran High School (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Birx Allen '12/T5'13 nominated Ann Day, who teaches chemistry at Thomas J. Corcoran High School in Syracuse, N.Y.
"She is open and available to talk to any of her students whether they are in her IB chemistry course or a basic level course," said Allen in her nominating letter. After transferring to Corcoran her sophomore year of high school, Allen asked Day if she could join her chemistry class. "Instead of turning me away, Ms. Day welcomed me into her class with open arms and stayed after school with me every day until I was caught up," said Allen.
Day stands out as a tough teacher that is truly dedicated to helping her students succeed. According to Corcoran Principal Leo Cosgrove, Day is an ardent advocate of the school's International Baccalaureate program, which launched in 2004. In Allen's senior year of high school, Day took over an IB biology class in the weeks before final exams after the regular teacher sustained a serious leg injury. "All the students felt moved and inspired that Ms. Day cared so much about her students, dug out her biology books, gave up her free time, and made sure we did the best that we could in the course," said Allen.
Michael Mucci, orchestra teacher, Longmeadow High School (Longmeadow, Mass.)
Juliet Wu '12/T5'13 nominated her orchestra teacher, Michael Mucci, of Longmeadow High School in Longmeadow, Mass. Wu credits Mucci for inspiring her to return to violin again after a college hiatus, which "brought back many fond memories" of her time as his student. "He is a maestro who goes above and beyond teaching about music and has become an important mentor and friend to many," said Wu.
Mr. Mucci's humorous teaching style and fierce passion contributed to a positive classroom environment, and despite winning numerous awards for his orchestral direction, "they were just icing on the cake of working with students and doing something he loved," explained Wu. "I hope he realizes what a massive impact he has had on his students throughout the years, both in big and little ways," said Wu of Mucci, who will retire after the end of the current school year.
Diane Haleas-Hines, world history teacher, St. Ignatius College Prep (Chicago, Ill.)
Jiore Craig '13 nominated Diane Haleas-Hines of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Ill. Craig said that Haleas-Hines, who teaches world history and AP comparative politics at St. Ignatius, "paid attention to each and every individual in the class by adjusting her teaching to accommodate different learning styles."
In her nomination letter, Craig detailed how Haleas-Hines pushed her to participate in Model UN and gave her life direction at a young age. "My grasp on the material taught in Ms. Haleas-Hines' classes and my success in Model UN led me to receive a nomination from my high school's History Department for the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award from Rochester," said Craig, who plans to attend law school to study international law. She also noted she is "100% confident" that her life course is a result of Haleas-Hines' direction and advice.
Winifred Crock, orchestra teacher, Parkway Central High School (Ballwin, Mo.)
Bradley Halpern '12/KEY'13 nominated his orchestra teacher, Winifred Crock, of Parkway Central High School in Ballwin, Mo.
Halpern, who marveled at Crock's talent, knowledge, and dedication to her students, wrote that she would often share relevant information "about biology, math, history, or any other subject in a way that was more comprehensible than any teacher of the topic could do." In his nomination letter, Halpern said Crock helped direct professional-quality Broadway musicals, would stay late into the night coaching a student for an audition, and would "never take an ounce of credit" for the awards won under her artistic direction.
"Mrs. Crock inspires her students to want to learn everything they can, and she remains my standard of excellence for wisdom," said Halpern. "She had a miraculous way of making me want so badly to do better, and had an equally magical formula for ensuring that I did. She taught me to respect myself."