High school chemistry teacher selected to participate in state-wide network of high-performing STEM teachers
Congratulations to Watervliet High School chemistry teacher Victoria Eddy-Helenek who has been named a New York State Master Teacher. According to the New York State Master Teacher Program (NYSMTP) website, Master Teachers are recognized for their dedication to providing the most innovative STEM education to their students, their commitment to professional growth and their enthusiasm for sharing their successful practices with colleagues in their schools and districts.
This year, 237 teachers from throughout the state were selected for this significant honor. Mrs. Helenek joins an elite group of 66 STEM educators from throughout the greater Capital Region who have been selected to participate in the Master Teacher program in the past two years.
Since its launch in October 2013, a total of 552 educators have been selected for the NYS Master Teachers Program. Master Teachers have a background in science, technology, engineering or math – known as STEM and engage in an extensive application and interview process that includes completing a content area test, submitting written essays and giving presentations.
“I'm really thrilled and excited to have been selected,” said Mrs. Helenek. “The process is intense, involving an exam, multiple essays, a presentation before a panel of judges and fellow applicants, and a personal interview. I want my students to know that I didn't give up when I didn't make the cut the first time I applied. I turned my disappointment into determination and prepared more diligently this year.”
Mrs. Helenek began teaching at Watervliet High School in September 2002. She currently teaches chemistry, but has also taught Grade 8 science, Living Environment and General Physics. Prior to becoming an educator, Mrs. Helenek worked as a chemist for many years at the General Electric Corporate Research Lab in Niskayuna.
“When I decided to fulfill a lifelong desire to teach, I wanted to do it at a school where I thought I could have a positive impact,” she said. “I love the small, collegial nature of Watervliet Junior-Senior High School. “It allows me to get to know my students well and be able to offer the support they need in a challenging subject.”
According to the program website, as a master teacher, Mrs. Helenek will participate in peer mentoring and intensive content-oriented professional development opportunities throughout the academic year; work closely with pre-service and early career teachers to foster a supportive environment for the next generation of STEM teachers; and receive a $15,000 stipend per year over four years for participating in the program.
The program offers opportunities for professional growth, mentorship and leadership, with Master Teachers attending regular cohort meetings and participating in and leading several professional development sessions annually. Mrs. Helenek will work with closely with other Capital Region educators who were selected for the Master Teachers program.
“One of the most exciting aspects of this program is the opportunity for collaboration and sharing experiences and perspectives with other teachers from around the region,” she said. “I think it will be helpful for strengthening instructional practices and improving student engagement our classrooms.”
Mrs. Helenek added that she looks forward to being a part of the program to improve education in STEM areas and better prepare students to study and work in these critical areas.
“The face of education is changing, and it’s important that teachers have a voice in the process and be given the opportunity to provide input into how students are educated,” she said. “I don’t think legislators fully understand the challenges that many students are facing, which is why we also must advocate for our students.”
Learn more about the New York State Master Teacher Program.