RSES NYS Master Teachers

RSES 5th Grade Teachers Named NYS Master Teachers
Posted on 01/27/2019
Cecile Retrosi & Jessica FoxFifth grade teachers Jessica Fox and Cecile Retrosi were accepted this fall into the New York State Master Teacher Program, joining the ranks of the state’s top educators – and the first cohort of top elementary school teachers. The 2018 class was the first time that K-5 teachers have been eligible for the program.

Through the program, which the state launched in 2013 to recognize STEM area educators and increase teacher retention, Mrs. Fox and Ms. Retrosi will have access to intensive professional development, statewide networking and opportunities to engage in peer mentoring.

“I’m able to work with educators who are passionate about what they do and who are constantly looking for ways to push the boundaries of their craft,” Ms. Retrosi said. “That was a really attractive piece to me.”

Both teachers began the application process in February 2018, completing essays, taking written tests, securing recommendation letters before they were accepted for an in-person presentation and interview at SUNY Cortland. There, they each had to present a unique 10-minute lesson that they were not already using in their classroom.

“It had to be something above and beyond your grade level, not part of your curriculum,” Mrs. Fox said.

They finally learned in October that they were accepted into the program, joining fellow Canastota teacher Sean Dwyer, a high school physics teacher.

The program is a four-year commitment and includes 50 hours per year of professional development and plans to help build connections across disciplines.

South Side Elementary School Principal Melissa Stanek is one of the people who encouraged Ms. Retrosi and Mrs. Fox to apply for the program when it was first opened to elementary teachers. At the time, Mrs. Stanek was acting principal at Roberts Street Elementary School. She said both teachers are leaders in the building and always look for new ways to incorporate project-based learning, STEM activities and other engaging ideas into their classrooms.

“They are both reflective about their teaching practices and are always striving to find new, innovative ideas that motivate and help students thrive academically, socially and emotionally in their classrooms,” Mrs. Stanek said. “They are very deserving of this opportunity and others will benefit from the expertise that they share.”

RSES Master Teacher Board
(Above) A congratulatory bulletin board at RSES this fall.