Group photo of many people in a large ballroom.

Questar III recognized 40 outstanding teachers from 18 districts and the BOCES as part of the first-ever Celebration of Teaching and Learning

More than 150 educators, related service providers, administrators and students interested in pursuing a career in education met Wednesday at The Desmond hotel in Albany for the first-ever “Celebration of Teaching and Learning”. The event was designed to not only honor exceptional teachers in our region but also to introduce high school students in Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene Counties to various careers and careers paths in education.

The event coincided with National Teacher Appreciation Week, and 40 teachers from 18 school districts and Questar III were nominated to attend and recognized with a certificate for their dedication to their craft.

“We can all point to teacher or educator who made a significant impact in our life – we often impact students in ways we will never know about. By celebrating the work that all our educators are doing, the role they play in developing the next generation of leaders and highlighting the numerous paths one can take on a career in education, we hope to inspire young people to pursue a career in this highly rewarding field,” said Questar III District Superintendent Dr. Gladys I. Cruz.

The day-long program included keynote addresses from 2019 New York state Superintendent of the Year Dr. Jason Andrews of Windsor Central School District outside of Binghamton and the 2015 NYS Teacher of the Year, Charles Giglio. Attendees also took part in a panel discussion moderated by East Greenbush CSD Superintendent Jeff Simons and Hudson CSD Superintendent Dr. Maria Suttmeier.

East Greenbush CSD Superintendent Jeff Simons with teachers Wendy McAlonie and Frank DiDonato, along with students Adaline Colligan and Elizabeth Gambino

“It’s really important that we build these pathways, that we have events like this one to get great people into the field of education because it’s just so critically important in everything we do. Our mission in schools is not to teach.  What we exist for is to ensure that all students learn and learn at high levels,” said Andrews during his remarks.

After the morning keynote and panel discussion, students, educators, and representatives from local colleges and universities participated in a series of roundtable conversations focused on job responsibilities, career pathways, college preparation and what makes careers in education fulfilling.

Each educator and student received a copy of the book “Today, I Made a Difference”, a collection of inspirational stories from the country’s top teachers.

Averill Park CSD

Lizette Hicks – Math
Kara Pedersen – Teacher of the Visually Impaired

Berlin CSD

Heather Riccardi – Speech and Language Pathologist
Michelle Baldwin – High School Special Education

Berkshire UFSD

Dan Horst – Math Teacher
Neil Hanlon – PE & Health teacher


David Gori – Special Education Teacher
Heather Maassmann – CTE


Jeff Dudzic – High School Math Teacher
Mary Hatton – ESL Teacher at Catskill Elementary School


Randy Squier – Superintendent
Anthony Loughran – Science Teacher
Jessica Pray – School Counselor
Andrew Wager – Technology Teacher

East Greenbush

Wendy McAlonie – Social Studies
Frank DiDonato – Mathematics
Jeff Simons – Superintendent


Sue Brown – Superintendent
Tammi Kellenbenz – President of BOE
Dean Hanson – HS Science
Dr. Shannon Miller – School Psychologist


Tammy Sutherland – Superintendent
Todd Hilgendorff – Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
Sheila Brady – 1-2 Teacher
Teresa Carlton – MS ELA teacher
Emily Karam – HS Special Education Teacher

Hoosick Falls  

Denise Hoag – High School Math teacher
Sarah Bushey – Elementary teacher


Dr. Maria Suttmeier – Superintendent
Alyssa Moore – Elementary teacher
Jack Beyer –  Technology teacher

New Lebanon  

Christine Neumann – Math
Kelly Smith – Elementary
Leslie Whitcomb – Superintendent

Questar III     

Mike Veeder – CTE Teacher – HVAC
Courtney Galuski – Special Education – Reading Teacher
Tracy MacGiffert – Pre-K Teacher


Stacey Rattner – Library Media Specialist
Ed Finney – Social Studies

Taconic Hills     

Rebecca Miller – Music
Linda Yasinski – SPED Teacher


Jamie Bowen – English as a new Language Teacher


Linda Fecura – Library Media Specialist
Sarah Sepp – Middle School Resource Room

See news coverage of this event from News10ABC.

Share This