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Local Teacher Showcased at Governor’s Address


A spotlight shone on SUNY Cortland graduate Abbey Albright ’02 in New York state’s capital on Jan. 8 as the Cortland middle school teacher spoke on behalf of the new Master Teacher program during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 State of the State Address.

Albright, one of 35 participants in SUNY Cortland’s new Master Teacher program, was invited by the governor to offer remarks at the address on behalf of the 104 other Master Teacher program participants throughout the state.

“It was quite an honor… to be invited to be an opening speaker,” Albright said by telephone after the address concluded. “I talked about the importance of educators in New York state and how the Master Teacher program could open up the future for our students to a better education.

“I told them how I am a mother to three boys who will be growing up in the New York state education system and they deserve top rated schools and first-rate teachers.”

Abbey Albright '02
 Abbey Hadzicki Albright '02

An image of herself with her family was shown in the broadcast during the address. The governor also acknowledged Albright when he came on to address the public and mentioned her again later during his speech.

WCNY Public TV will shortly offer access to see the taped broadcast of the address on its website.

Albright has been a Cortland Junior Senior High School eighth grade mathematics and algebra Regents teacher since graduating from SUNY Cortland’s School of Education in 2002. She and the other teachers joined this prestigious, four-year pilot project in October. SUNY Cortland boasts the largest group of master teachers, followed by Buffalo State, SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY New Paltz. This past fall, Gov. Cuomo announced the expansion of the project to SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Oneonta, Binghamton University, Stony Brook University and the University at Albany.

The program, announced by Gov. Cuomo in spring 2013, provides each participant with a $60,000 stipend in exchange for a four-year commitment to mentor other secondary school teachers and help both prospective educators and new teachers. Teachers also engage in peer mentoring and intensive content-oriented professional development opportunities throughout the academic year.

The idea is to give outstanding teachers in math and science an incentive to continue teaching in New York while sharing their methods, experience and insight with fellow teachers.

Albright has earned the respect of colleagues and peers in the field of education.

“She’s a young and very bright individual, just full of energy,” said Dominick Fantacone, master teacher program coordinator for SUNY Cortland. “She’s always willing to help in any way she can with the program and she’s just so on top of everything.

“And I think it’s important to note the three key areas of emphasis in the Master Teacher program, which are content, pedagogy and knowledge of students,” Fantacone said. “She demonstrates strength in all three of those areas.”

“We’re obviously very proud of Abbey and her accomplishments, as well as those of all four of our master teachers in the district,” said Michael Hoose, the Cortland district superintendent. “This can only benefit the staff and students.”

Albright has helped many of her students master mathematics and inspired a few to pursue the field of math education. Her students were regional math scoring leaders in 2012 and 2013. In her 11 years with the Cortland Enlarged City School District, she has invited into her classroom six college students completing their required semester of student teaching and 20 others gaining practicum experience. Albright earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at SUNY Cortland and is dual certified to teach at the elementary level as well as grades 7-12 mathematics.

Since 2011, Albright also has served as a mentor to students enrolled in SUNY Cortland’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program. The Noyce project encourages talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science educators. The project is funded by a $900,000 five-year grant that the National Science Foundation awarded to the College in 2009-10.

Albright is one of 10 local educators in high-needs schools who participate in Noyce Workshops and are always available to the scholars if they have questions regarding content, pedagogy or career advancement, said Kerri Freese, the Noyce Project coordinator at SUNY Cortland.

“She was selected … for being a highly qualified middle school math teacher who has had success with SUNY Cortland’s student teachers,” Freese said. “She actually taught (middle school) math to two of our Noyce Scholars.”

Since 2011, Albright has helped plan and present a series of Noyce workshops for the scholars on a wide range of topics, with a special focus on serving classrooms with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, Freese said.

“She looks for ways to treat all students equally and with respect,” Fantacone noted of her Noyce mentorship.

Since 2006, Albright has coached her school’s girls’ varsity soccer team to numerous individual New York state scholar athlete awards, several sectional and regional championships, a 2008 statewide final four playoff, a coaching award in the Onondaga High School League and several honors for sportsmanship. She also has coached girls’ modified basketball since 2012 and previously coached girls’ junior varsity basketball and boys’ and girls’ modified track. Albright has been a Cortland County Youth Soccer Association coach since 2011 and Cortland County Youth Soccer Association age group coordinator since last spring. She has facilitated the Cortland County Select Soccer Camp since summer 2005.

The former Abbey Hadzicki, Albright is married to another SUNY Cortland graduate, Ben Albright ’03, who teaches and coaches in the same district. Their three sons are Caden, a first grader; Calin, a toddler; and Camden, an infant.