Vicki Newman, a math teacher at Hilton High School, thought she was just attending another staff meeting that happened to be Teacher Appreciation Day. As she and her fellow teachers settled in to hear a presentation on the proposed school budget, Conor McMahon, the governor’s representative for the Finger Lakes region, stepped up to the podium.
“I’m here to honor a teacher who stands for the very best in a great profession, and you are all so fortunate to have someone of this caliber and such talent sharing her gifts with you as you share your gifts with her,” McMahon said at the presentation. “On behalf of Gov. Cuomo and myself, it is with great pleasure that I present Vicki Newman with the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award.”
Newman’s colleagues erupted with applause as she stepped up to the podium to accept a plaque and $5,000 check to use toward professional development.
“I feel honored to have received this award,” Newman said. “I am especially humbled, because the nomination came from a former student who is an incredible young man.”
Michael Speciale, a senior at Hilton High School, nominated Newman in fall 2016. Speciale is senior class president, National Honor Society vice president and was named a commended student in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship program.
Newman is a Hilton HS graduate, and has taught in Hilton Central School District for her entire 13-year career.
“I could have never received this level of recognition without my colleagues,” she said. “They are amazing teachers who inspire me to improve every day.”
Anyone — students, parents or educators — may submit a nomination for the governor’s Empire State of Excellence in Teaching Award. Recipients are selected by a panel of educational leaders from several professional associations. Criteria includes exemplifying the dedication, mission, skill, expertise and talent of outstanding teachers; holding high expectations for every student and providing access to higher levels of learning for all learners; preparing children for a changing economic workforce and a lifelong journey of learning; and being a continuous learner eager to pursue professional growth opportunities throughout his or her career.