The Amity Board of Education has recognized a science teacher and the district's building maintenance manager with its annual Awards of Excellence.
According to Superintendent of Schools John Brady, honorees are selected by a committee of their peers (secretaries, custodians, teachers, and administrators). This year the committee joined together to review the nominations and selected two very capable people.
Deborah Day is the science research teacher at the high school and co-leader in the STEM initiatives with the Region 5 school district.
"Her commitment, dedication and perseverance in everything she does reflect positive on the ideals and tenants we hold as educators to the district and specifically here at Amity High School," according to Brady.
Day has been a science teacher at Amity since September, 1999, first as a chemistry teacher and for the past six years as the teacher of Amity’s Science Research Program (SRP). Under her direction Amity’s SRP has grown from one section with an enrollment of 13 students in the 2006-2007 school year to five sections with an enrollment of 73 students for next year.
Brady calls Day's teaching assignment is most challenging, requiring her to oversee the successful implementation of an original science research investigation for each student in the program. This year she is supervising 54 individual research investigations, and next year it will be 73. In addition to her regular SRP classroom teaching, she meets biweekly with each student individually for a conference on the progress of their research project and plans for the next two weeks. After the first year, students must secure an outside mentor for their research project, and Day keeps in touch with each mentor as needed to assess student progress. Day was also lauded for her close contact with students outside of school, emailing them often from home about upcoming assignments, projects and events. She shares that same close contact with the parents of her students.
"The success rate of Amity’s SRP students is phenomenal. They place very high in local and state science fairs. For example, this year a junior Amity SRP student placed second in the state Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) and has been invited to compete in the national JSHSin May," Brady notes. For the past two years Amity has had an Intel finalist, a high honor, since only 40 science students in the United States become Intel finalists and go to the national Intel competition. Last year’s Amity Intel finalists placed in the top ten.
An Amity SRP student was also invited to participate in the young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) competition, and won YES scholarship money for college. Amity SRP students have had their work published in professional science journals.
Ralph Schuster is a 'value-added member' of the Amity staff
The other recipient of this year's Awards of Excellence is Ralph Schuster, District Building Maintainer. Schuster is known as a dedicated employee who constantly goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure school buildings are the best they can be.
According to Brady, he pursues problems with eagerness to solve them and frequently spends his own time at home in building trade chat rooms to find answers and to better serve the district.
"He always answers his phone, day or night, weekday or weekend to lend a hand to anyone having an issue in the buildings. He logs into the systems during important events, on his own time, just to ensure our equipment is providing a comfortable environment," says Brady. "He cares about the people of Amity and strives to do all he can to make sure we work in a clean, safe environment, handling complaints and concerns with the utmost professionalism."
Brady says it does not matter how many times an individual may register a concern, Schuster always shows up to verify that the equipment is operating properly. His work is credited with decreasing the district's utiility budget in each of the last five years.
"Ralph strives to learn more and more about the technical aspects of his job. He has really mastered the complicated Building Management Systems through training and research on his own," Brady says, continuing, "His drive to improve his knowledge base has serves us well and allowed us to use outside contractors less frequently. Ralph is a hardworking individual who can always be counted on to get the job done. His professional, can-do attitude makes him a tremendous asset to Amity."
Each awardee was given a watch generously donated each year by Michael's Jewelers in Orange.