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Kristen McCabe accepted into the New York State Master Teacher Program

Dec 2, 2016 | In the News

By Lauren Kirchmyer

West Seneca Central School District is proud to announce Kristen McCabe, a math teacher at West Seneca East Senior High School, has been accepted into the New York State Master Teacher program, a SUNY program launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for outstanding STEM teachers.

McCabe learned about the program from a professor she had while attending SUNY College at Buffalo, where she attended as an undergrad and graduate student.

“I jumped in and did it,” said McCabe, who began the application process in April. From taking a Praxis exam in math and writing essays to submitting letters of references and school transcripts, she was thrilled to be invited to interview for the program.

Kristen McCabe

Kristen McCabe

“I had to do a peer-level presentation on any STEM topic,” she said. “I actually did a physics lesson to show I had an interest in still learning and bettering myself.” She also had a lengthy one-on-one interview for the program, which began at 7:30 a.m. and concluded at 3 p.m.

The process was extensive and time-consuming, and once it was complete all she could do was wait for a response. Little did she know the waiting would last three months.

“I was checking my email obsessively, 15 times a day,” she laughed. “Not that an email was going to come in on a Sunday, but I still checked.”

On Nov. 9, she came home from work to her children and their babysitter doing homework at the dining room table. “I opened up my email. It said ‘Congratulations!’ and that’s as far as I got,” McCabe said with a smile. “I handed off the phone to my babysitter because I was jumping up and down. I was crying. This means a lot for my family.”

McCabe was one of about 20 people invited to participate in the program, which is in its fourth year. Outside of attending meetings, sitting on an advisory board and learning with fellow master teachers on a monthly basis over the course of the next four years, McCabe will receive a $15,000 stipend each year.

“For our family of five, it’s a life-changing thing,” she said. “It’s so exciting.”

Though the program doesn’t officially begin until Jan. 1, McCabe attended her first meeting in November. Some of the topics she has already discussed with her peers are how to include technology in the classroom and how to make Common Core standards more project-based and interactive. “I walked out of there so excited and ready to hit the ground running,” McCabe said. “It’s pretty exciting to have like-minded science, tech, engineering and math teachers all in the same room bouncing ideas off each other.

“I haven’t been this excited about teaching in a really long time,” McCabe continued. “It’s all about exploring things we don’t know yet, allowing that to flow into our classroom and giving that information to our colleagues.”

“From my vantage point, this is an awesome professional development program that’s not just a one-stop shop but a continued conversation about professional growth, teaching, learning and best practices,” East Senior Principal Dr. Jonathan Cervoni said. “What a great thing for a veteran teacher to be thrust into this like-minded, eager-to-learn group.”

McCabe and Cervoni, who went to high school together, are excited for the journey ahead and to see the potential this program has to offer.

McCabe has been teaching in West Seneca schools for 13 years, and has her own crochet business on the side called Get Hooked. Cervoni said since joining Trojan Nation, McCabe has coached girls soccer and taught advanced studies courses in pre-calc at the school as an adjunct for ECC, giving her students the opportunity to graduate high school with college credits.

The Master Teacher Program also allows McCabe to be an adjunct for Buffalo State as well as a Master Teacher ambassador, hopefully allowing more West Seneca teachers to be welcomed into the program down the line.

“Being part of this program sort of emphasizes the idea of life-long learning and continued growth,” Cervoni said. “It’s great modeling for our kids.

“My students saw the nervous side of me. They saw my reaction after taking a class that was really hard. They saw what it’s like to do great on a test. The whole process was great for them,” she shared. “One of the objectives for the program is to encourage students into STEM subjects. Maybe we’ll get a few of them who follow through with it.”

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