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March 10, 2014

North Country master teachers swap trade secrets

PLATTSBURGH — Peru Central School teacher Jenifer Jensen is on a quest for more innovative ways of sharing knowledge in her classroom.

The seventh- and 10th-grade science instructor would like to get her students excited about the real-life applications of their coursework, she said, “rather than just teaching them what we find in the textbook.”

Jensen is now able to learn and share new teaching methods with fellow educators, as well as access numerous other professional-development opportunities, thanks to the New York State Master Teacher Program at SUNY Plattsburgh, which launched in October.

TAPPED FOR PROGRAM

She is one of 21 math and science teachers, who collectively represent 14 school districts in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties, selected to comprise the program’s North Country cohort.

“Because we now have this arena of all of us being together, we can bounce ideas off of each other more easily than we could if we were just on our own,” Jensen said.

The four-year program, sponsored under an initiative by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and intended to enhance math- and science-technology education, includes four cohorts across the state, comprising more than 100 teachers.

This spring, a second round of teachers will be selected to join the North Country’s existing cohort, which is coordinated through the North Country Teacher Resource Center and receives additional support from Clarkson University.

PUSHING EACH OTHER

While all participants receive a $15,000 stipend for each of the four years, noted program co-coordinator Kathleen Fessette, the work they are doing as master teachers goes above and beyond their classroom duties.

Master teachers attend cohort meetings at the Resource Center and are also encouraged to meet on their own and plan and attend other events aimed at professional growth.

“Just in the meetings that we’ve had, we’re already pushing each other to be better,” said program participant Rebecca Shuman.

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