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Secondary science teacher Jenny Starr named a NYS Master Teacher

NYS Master Teacher Jenny Starr
NYS Master Teacher Jenny Starr

Congratulations to Heatly secondary science teacher Jenny Starr on being named a 2022 New York State Master Teacher! This remarkable achievement is part of the New York State Master Teacher Program (NYSMTP)—a professional coalition of public school teachers created in 2013 who share a common interest for STEM learning and for collaborating with their colleagues to embolden the next generation of STEM leaders. Mrs. Starr is one of 221 educators to be selected to join this experienced network of teaching professionals, known as Master Teachers, bringing the total number of NYS Master Teachers to over 1,600.  

“I am thrilled to be selected as a NYS Master Teacher. As one of only two science teachers in my school district, I am always looking for ways to collaborate and network with other science teachers and the Master Teacher Program will allow me to do just that,” said Mrs. Starr. 

Mrs. Starr has been a secondary science teacher at Heatly for 23 years and has been an active member of the school community, both inside and outside of the classroom. She’s passionate about helping her students succeed, whether it be teaching a full class or tutoring one student. 

“I love ‘watching the lights go off’ when students understand and grasp difficult concepts. I love seeing them smile each day and motivating them to achieve their goals,” Mrs. Starr exclaimed. 

When it comes to STEM education, Mrs. Starr believes all students should have equal access to the curriculum, regardless of race, sex, gender, ability or socio-economic status. “I strive to increase all students’ curiosity in science,” Mrs. Starr said. 

Over the years, she has achieved this by adding several science electives at Heatly, including forensics and a “College in the High School” forensics chemistry course through SUNY Albany. Mrs. Starr plans on expanding STEM electives for Heatly students by introducing robotics and coding courses in the future.

As a staff member, Mrs. Starr is supportive of her colleagues and is one of the first to lend a helping hand. She enjoys being a new teacher mentor and assisting new staff members as they get to know Heatly and assimilate. She’s also a member of the School Impact Team, tasked with moving the district forward and identifying areas for growth. 

A natural leader, Mrs. Starr has been the president of the Green Island Teachers Association (GITA) for years. This is one of the most important leadership roles in the district because she serves as a liaison between Heatly teachers and district administrators. She also advocates for teachers on a wide variety of issues, including resources and trainings.

Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Starr continually develops her knowledge in science. For example, she’s in the middle of a two-year summer internship at Norlite in Cohoes in which she’s able to apply science concepts to real-life scenarios. In addition, Mrs. Starr is a member of the STEM Research Group at Questar BOCES. 

“The district is incredibly proud of Mrs. Starr’s accomplishment of being named a 2022 Master Teacher,” said Superintendent Kimberly Ross. “Throughout her 23 years serving the students of Green Island UFSD, Jenny has provided exemplary lessons and leadership to her colleagues and learners. We are all excited to see how her professional journey will continue to impact the Heatly school community.”

About the NYSMTP

The 221 Master Teachers selected in 2022 teach science, technology, computer science, robotics, coding, engineering, math and integrated STEM courses to students in grades K-12. They are devoted to expanding their knowledge of STEM through professional development and to providing their students with a learning environment that fosters creativity, innovation and engagement. To be eligible for the NYSMTP, teachers must be a full-time state certified public school teacher with at least four years of teaching experience. They also must “be rated ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’ on their Annual Professional Performance Review” according to the program’s website. In addition, Master Teachers should demonstrate leadership; many of the 221 new members serve as advisors of STEM-related clubs and/or activities.

The NYSMTP is hosted at a variety of SUNY campuses in nine regions throughout New York State. This allows the program to utilize the University’s resources and expertise of its faculty. SUNY Albany hosts the NYSMTP for the Capital Region. It’s a four year program in which potential master teachers commit to: 

  • Engaging in various NYSMTP professional development sessions;
  • Participating in peer mentoring;
  • Attending regional meetings; and to
  • Creating a learning environment that supports future STEM leaders. 

Master Teachers enrolled in the program also receive a $15,000 annual stipend. To date, a total of 198 teachers have been selected from the Capital Region.