Questar III BOCES launched a new Master Teacher Program, an opportunity to create a collaborative effort between the Questar III administration and the Teachers’ Association. The program recognizes the special skills and talents of experienced teachers while enhancing their professional development.

To be selected for a two-year term, a teacher is required to submit an application, two letters of recommendation, a written statement on why they want to become a Master Teacher, their resume, and peer-reviewed lesson plans. Upon selection, the five Master Teachers work together to share their experiences, expertise, and professional development across Questar III BOCES. The second year of their term is dedicated to mentoring the next group of Master Teachers.

Questar III BOCES would like to congratulate this talented group of Master Teachers:

The Master Teachers have already begun their collaboration efforts. They attended conferences over the summer, are working on the Questar III BOCES Portrait of a Graduate, and reviewing alternative grading policies. They will work towards providing professional development opportunities and are eager to learn more about the schools and programs outside the ones they teach.

Joal Bova is a Special Education Social Studies teacher at Sackett Educational Center. Joal joined the Special Education team at Questar III BOCES in 1997 and has worked in various buildings, with various age groups. He joined the team at Sackett Educational Center 15 years ago with the launch of the Therapeutic Youth Program. Joal also serves as President of the Questar III BOCES Teacher Association.

Joal first learned of the Master Teacher program through his work with the Teachers’ Association. When District Superintendent Dr. Gladys Cruz presented the idea, he immediately saw it as a way to get people working together and more invested in the organization. He also found it to be a way to extend his influence and give back.

“When I first started teaching, there were a lot of people who informally mentored me,” said Joal. “This is my chance to give some of that back. Going back to my first couple of years, I know I was reluctant to reach out. I think sometimes we think that that will negatively impact us – that we’re the teacher, we should know all the answers and handle it all on our own. I think sometimes, people are afraid to ask for help, that it somehow reflects poorly on them. But it’s a natural part of the process, we have to continue to grow in whatever field we’ve chosen, and it’s okay to look for help or advice.”

Joal hopes this program will give others a better understanding of the organization and its various services. One way the Master Teachers are working towards that is through the Portrait of a Graduate.

“We’re playing a pretty big role in that project,” said Joal. “I think it’s important because it will help us prepare all our students for the future. Because I’ve been here so long and I am working with them just before graduation, I’ve had some contact from former students who’ve shared their stories after leaving our schools. I think this is important work to help us prepare them for whatever comes next. We’ll have a common goal and that will have an impact in the classroom.”

Besides Portrait of a Graduate, Joal hopes this program will inspire others to be more involved.

“I want to encourage others to become active in the organization any way they can,” said Joal. “I don’t think people realize the impact that we have – volunteering for a committee, or anything really – you get to meet people to collaborate and share ideas with – good things happen from that. Since the pandemic, there have been fewer times for us to all come together in person. Now that we provide so much professional development and meetings online, it’s harder to make those connections. I hope some of our collaborative work will break that down.”

Joal described how teaching is a lifelong experience, where you’re always continuing to grow, but never really arriving where you want to be – because that is always changing. Even twenty-seven years in, Joal hopes to learn from this experience himself.

“This program is empowering,” said Joal. “It’s going to allow people to have an impact outside their classroom. I hope that when other teachers see the work we’re doing, they’ll be inspired to apply too. I’m happy to be a part of this.”

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