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Thursday, 14 May 2015 00:00

Teachers of the Year

By | News

Welcome to the 2015
Teacher of the Year!

As you turn the pages you are going to meet some fantastic educators who are helping to shape the future of America. Whether nominated by students, parents, or fellow educators, they all have one thing in common: A commitment to children and the willingness to go above and beyond on a regular basis.

As we made our way to the various schools (elementary, middle, HS) we burst into the classrooms or auditoriums to announce the news. The looks of surprise (and embarrassment) on the teacher’s faces was priceless. But I have to say it paled in comparison to the reaction of the students who were hooting, hollering and hugging their teachers. Their reaction made it perfectly clear how special these individuals are.

We couldn’t have done this without our partners SaratogaMama.com or LocalLivingIn.com.

And a big thank you to our sponsors who stepped up to the plate and provided great packages for each winner. Thank you to Adirondack Trust Co., Northshire Bookstore,Target and A.C. Moore.

And to all the teachers who are out there every day making a difference, Thank You.


-Chad Beatty

How it all happened...

Last year, Saratoga TODAY pitched the idea of a county-wide contest to find the most beloved teacher in the area… everybody was on-board and the buzz started… great idea, the kids and teachers will love it, what do we give them, when do we hold it, how do we promote it, when will we announce the winners???

Luckily we have great media partners that helped promote it, and local businesses that were willing to be sponsors. Saratoga TODAY, along with LocalLivingIn.com and SaratogaMama.com kicked off the first ever “Saratoga County’s Teacher of the Year” contest, and it was quite the hit!

This year’s contest was conducted the same way with the nomination period during the month of March, and voting during the month of April. 

Another year came and went with heartfelt nominations and the task of narrowing it down to the top four in each grade level, to be voted on by the public.

The school support was wonderful… promoting it in-house, helping us pull this off without the teachers knowing and having a wonderful school spirit that inspired the students and teachers to nominate and vote.

We SURPRISED the winners at their schools on Monday, May 11th and in case you were wondering what the teachers received in each of their gift bags… 

An engraved crystal APPLE and a framed certificate from us, a $25 gift card from Target, a $50 gift card from Northshire Books and a $250 DBA gift card from the Adirondack Trust Company – thank you to all of our very generous sponsors!!


-Chris Vallone Bushee

Mrs. Stauffer
St. Clements Regional Catholic School

Left to right, Danielle Kuehnel, Assistant Marketing Manager Adirondack Trust Company; Colleen Pierre, Owner/Publisher of Saratoga Mama; Becky Stauffer, St. Clement’s elementary school teacher; Chad Beatty, Owner/Publisher of Saratoga TODAY.SARATOGA SPRINGS — Into a quiet classroom of diligently working young fourth graders came balloons, the school principal, and a second group of children, excited and not sure what was about to happen, but from the infectious smiles they could tell it was something good. 

Elementary teacher Becky Stauffer received, in happy surprise, the 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year Award in front of two classes of cheering fourth graders at St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School located at 231 Lake Ave in Saratoga Springs.

“I was stunned,” said Stauffer. “So happy and just, well, stunned.”

Jane E. Kromm, principal of St. Clement’s, was wreathed in smiles for her teacher. “Congratulations to a very dedicated teacher who really sees her job as a vocation,” Kromm said. “I know she has touched many lives over the years that she has been a teacher.” 

Teaching is a second career for Stauffer, her first being motherhood. She decided to raise a family after earning her college degree, and after that, at the age of 40, became a teacher. She has been teaching for 23 years, mostly second grade and recently began teaching fourth grade. 

“Mrs. Stauffer was every bit of what she is rumored to be---an exceptional teacher with high expectations, but with enough love and guidance to allow any child to blossom to their own potential,” was one of the comments in the nominating letter. 

When she is not teaching, Stauffer loves to garden and play golf. Her garden includes a variety of flowers and vegetables. Her best crop, she says, is her students and children. 

“Teaching in a Catholic school is very rewarding,” Stauffer said. “My faith and love of children brought me here, and I see it almost as missionary work. Teaching is an opportunity to positively touch the lives of children.”

One of her children, Tim Stauffer, is a professional baseball player, formerly with the San Diego Padres and recently taken on by the Minnesota Twins.

Mrs. Stauffer’s nominating letter:

I am the mother of 4 children whose ages range from 10 to 15 years old. My children have been blessed to attend St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School for all of their pre-school and elementary years. Mrs. Stauffer has taught all of my children. Initially she taught 2nd grade but switched to 4th this year. My boys had her first. It was evident when we first had her assigned to our oldest son, Cameron, that Mrs. Stauffer was every bit of what she is rumored to be---an exceptional teacher with high expectations, but with enough love and guidance to allow any child to blossom to their own potential. Cameron needed extra coaching with becoming organized. Alec needed nothing extra, but excelled under her teaching. My daughters are twins and had her first for 2nd grade and we were excited to know that they would again have her this year for 4th grade. She is nurturing and feels like an extension of home. She gives the students loving stories that they come home and tell us. These stories clearly engage the children. Mrs. Stauffer’s son is a famous baseball player­­­— Timmy Stauffer. The kids love to hear what he is up to! She gave them all baseballs with his initials. Mrs. Stauffer personally selects a special book to give each student at Christmas. She obviously takes the time to listen to them and to get to know their personal likes and characteristics. Mrs. Stauffer always takes the extra time to speak with us parents to make sure that we are aware of any slight challenges that may be happening with our child. For instance, my daughter, Madeleine, seemed to add a vowel prior to the start of any new sentence when reading aloud, but she noted that this was only when she was reading aloud to the entire class and that this didn’t happen when she was alone with her. She brought this to our attention. Although it was a small little concern, she clearly takes the time needed to see these little tiny things in each child. She is warm, happy, uplifting and is simply an amazing teacher!!! 

— a mom


Mr. Barrow 
Galway Central School District

Gary Barrow of Galway Junior/Senior High was awarded 2015 Middle School Teacher of the Year. Left to right, Danielle Kuehnel, Assistant Marketing Manager Adirondack Trust Company; Colleen Pierre, Owner/Publisher of Saratoga Mama; Gary Barrow, mathematics teacher; Chad Beatty,  Owner/Publisher of Saratoga TODAY.

The auditorium of the Galway Junior/Senior High School at 5317 Sacandaga Road in Galway erupted into spontaneous applause as music teacher Gary Barrow was presented with the 2015 Middle School Teacher of the Year award. 

For 22 of Gary Barrow’s 23 years of teaching, he has been teaching music in Galway. For him, music is so much more than instruments and sheet music. 

“We teach music, but it has to go beyond that a little,” he said. “There are some great life lessons gained through music, and hopefully I have a positive influence on students toward their life after high school.”

Galway’s school principal, Mike Healey, believes he does. “So many teachers teach their subjects,” said Healey. “He lives it. He’s passionate about music, about his own instrument, and kids respond to that. We have an exceptional band program in large part due to him.”

Barrow teaches band to well over one hundred students in grades four through 12. Aside from lessons, he holds full band rehearsals regularly; three concerts a year; coordinates the marching band and all the local parades. He is also a professional trombone player in the area, typically performing with the Empire Jazz Orchestra out of Schenectady County Community College.  

Barrow was surprised when the crowd with balloons walked in with his certificate and prizes. “I’m honored,” he said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in the Galway community, it’s a second home. Thank you to the students, parents and Galway for their continued support, and to all the sponsoring organizations who – through these awards – acknowledge the hard work of teachers.” 

“If anybody deserves this award, it’s Mr. Barrow,” said Healey. “He’s one hundred percent dedicated to music and the arts and his students.”

Mr. Barrow’s nominating letter:

Mr. Barrow teaches band to many different grade levels in Galway Central School District. My son had the pleasure of taking band from him this year. The amount of improvement I have seen in my own child as well as seeing the amazing display of talent and skill shown by students during the winter concert shows me what a capable teacher Mr. Barrow is! 

— a mom

Mr. Hayes 
Schuylerville Central School District

Left to right, Danielle Kuehnel, Assistant Marketing Manager Adirondack Trust Company; Colleen Pierre, Owner/Publisher of Saratoga Mama; Ron Hayes, Schuylerville High School Mathematics Teacher;  Chad Beatty, Owner/Publisher of Saratoga TODAY.SCHUYLERVILLE — Ronald Hayes, mathematics teacher at  Schuylerville High School at 14 Spring Street, turned in surprise from the display of equations in the front of his 11th grade class when the door opened to several students, teachers, and balloons all suddenly piling into the room.  

Hayes, who has been teaching for 25 years, was selected as the 2015 High School Teacher of the Year. 

Assistant Principal Aaron Grady said, “Ron is a phenomenal teacher. He can certainly bring a higher level of teaching to kids, and still has the ability to connect with those that need a little extra help. He can break down processes to make them understandable for students.” 

Hayes recognizes that many students initially approach math with wariness and even dislike, but he is more than up for that challenge. 

“Math has always been easy for me,” he said. “I consider it a puzzle. I like that you can approach the same problem from more than one way.”

For students who do not find math as much fun as he does, he recommends they go ahead and push themselves to trudge through it. He says that the accomplishment at the end makes the work well worth it, which is true for any job that must be done. Hayes understands that it is an important life skill to be able to push through and complete tasks, whether or not they are enjoyable. 

“I think Ron approaches teaching with such humbleness. He goes about his daily work and quietly builds relationships with the students,” Grady said. “He has an exceptional ability to connect, and he is very passionate about what he does. It’s a great honor for him to be recognized for that.” 

Grady added that Hayes is well-known throughout the school as an approachable teacher, and students are comfortable speaking with him on any topic, not just math. Hayes believes his fondness of the subject has made him happy in his work.

“It’s important to me to do what I love. You don’t want to live with regrets,” he said. 

Life has been especially difficult for this dedicated teacher and his family. His 13-year-old son, Parker Hayes, lost his battle with a rare form of cancer in February.

“It’s been a hard year, but everyone has been so supportive, not just Schuylerville, but Saratoga, Glens Falls… everyone,” Hayes said. “Teaching helps me get through this.”

Grady believes the school and students are fortunate to have him. “He’s one of those teachers that kids will remember for years after graduation.”

Mr. Hayes’ nominating letter:

Mr. Hayes is my daughter’s pre-trig teacher. I am impressed by his enthusiasm for math, a subject that can be difficult for some students. He takes the time to make sure that each student understands the concepts, making himself available after school if necessary. More importantly, I am impressed with the life lessons he has imparted. Mr. Hayes’ son recently lost a battle with cancer and Mr. Hayes has shown my daughter and her peers how to face adversity with dignity, that family is of utmost importance, and that you can teach more by example than by words. I am grateful my daughter was in his classroom this year. I only hope Mr. Hayes knows how much he is loved and appreciated by his students and the community of Schuylerville.

— a mom

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