AWARDS

New York State Teacher of the Year

dayElizabeth Day

Mechanicville Teachers Association

A sixth-grade teacher at Mechanicville Middle School in Saratoga County, Elizabeth Day is a classroom veteran whose teaching colleagues now include former students. When she was named New York Teacher of the Year for 2005, Day said she had made a promise to herself and her students when she started teaching 27 years ago.

"I decided that I should always approach every teaching day as if it were my first - that is, with enthusiasm and eagerness. I decided that I would view every day as a privilege and an opportunity to connect with a young heart, mind or soul in or out of my classroom."

The citation from the state Board of Regents described Day as "an extremely dedicated, hard working, student-centered teacher" who sets an example with "her professional demeanor, high standards and caring attitude."

day with studentsA member of the Mechanicville Teachers Association, Day teaches math, two blocks of science, reading and English Language Arts. Over the course of five summers, she got together with district middle and high school teachers to align the science curriculum and start teaching earth science. Previously, it wasn't taught until the ninth grade.

Day, who plays the flute in several local bands, is involved in many activities in the Mechanicville community. Working in the theater bridges her personal and professional life.

During a sabattical, she was educator in residence with the New York State Theater Institute. Later, she continued to teach dramatics to students on Saturdays and during the summer. The sixth-grade shows she stages twice each year with her students include short, original skits and students performing poetry and dance. Putting on plays involves all the learning standards, she says, including public speaking, narratives, creativity, organization and problem solving.

The Mechanicville TA has had plenty of problems to solve in recent years, recently going nearly six years without a contract and struggling for community support. Day helped get the public on board.

"She's always been active with the TA," said Jay Sullivan, MTA president. "She's a bundle of energy. ...

"We went from being the school that went the longest without a contract to a Teacher of the Year school," he said. "We've made a huge turn-around, and it's because of things like Liz is involved with."