More than 60 high school teachers from across Western New York will gather today, May 14, to celebrate their successes at a recognition dinner and ceremony presented by the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University of Rochester. The teachers from area counties were selected by their schools for exceptional work in 2002-03.
The Warner School Awards for Excellence in High School Teaching are given to teachers whose practices reflect the attributes needed to improve the education system: They are student-centered, use innovative teaching techniques, believe that all children can learn and do learn in unique ways, and are themselves lifelong learners. Their schools, usually through processes that involve students, select awardees.
"Great teaching is so critical for our children, and can have long-lasting effects. Yet, it is not often publicly acknowledged and celebrated," says Raffaella Borasi, dean of the Warner School. "We are glad to have the opportunity to recognize the contributions of dedicated high school educators throughout the region."
The celebration at the Memorial Art Gallery for the awardees, their principals, and guests is made possible by a grant from Marion A. and Leonard S. Simon. Mrs. Simon graduated from the University of Rochester with a doctoral degree in education, has taught school at the secondary level, and held several professional positions in local institutions of higher education. Mr. Simon is the retired vice chairman of Charter One Financial, Inc., the holding company of Charter One Bank.
From among the winners, an awards committee picked four educators for special attention. This year's distinguished teachers are: Theresa Funk, art teacher at Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester; Marleen M. Mark, English and language arts teacher at Wayland-Cohocton High School in Wayland; Marjory "Midge" Marshall, teacher of English and theater at Fairport High School in Fairport; and Ronald K. Miller, teacher and department chair of music at Dundee Junior-Senior High School in Dundee.
Since 1994, Funk has taught art education at Wilson Magnet from summer camp and creative family night to an interdisciplinary curriculum for special education students. Recently, her art courses were opened to International Baccalaureate students with their rigorous curriculum, and Monroe Community College started offering credit to those in her classes. In a recommendation for this award, Funk's work was singled out as "exemplary because she reaches all students."
Marlene Mark's work for 23 years as a counselor and now an English teacher at Wayland-Cohocton has touched faculty and students deeply. She is recognized as a teacher who acts to enrich the classroom experience-even when it takes more work and time. In a personal statement about teaching, she described it as "pure joy . . . the look on a student's face as he or she finally grasps a concept or idea is priceless." Some of Mark's other accomplishments include creating an honors recognition program for top students, and designing a daylong, schoolwide program centered on careers and job skills.
Another distinguished teacher, Marjory "Midge" Marshall of Fairport High School, is praised by her principal for exceptional work with students in her rigorous English, writing, and theater courses, and for her accomplishments as the director of more than 100 plays and musicals. In 26 years at Fairport, Marshall is known for high expectations that produce remarkable results in the lives of her students. She instituted the school speech and debate team, an improvisational comedy team, and invests in her own continuing education by studying abroad and applying for fellowships.
In the rural community of Dundee in the Finger Lakes, Ronald Miller has built a student chorus that is "the heart of Dundee's music program," says Principal Michael Chirco. But that core has been embellished with multiple musical opportunities for students at Dundee Junior-Senior High School for more than 30 years. As a teacher and chair of the music department, Miller travels widely with his student musicians, including those in the notable Symphonic Steel Drum Band.
The Warner School (on the Web at www.rochester.edu/warner/) offers master's degree and doctoral degree programs in teaching, curriculum and change, counseling and human development, and educational leadership. Within the Warner School, the Center for Professional Development and Education Reform works with local educational institutions to support the cause of education reform and to encourage the preparation and ongoing education of excellent teachers.