Teacher Appreciation Week Day 4: Honoring local educators

Several teachers have been recognized by students, co-workers and community members during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Posted: May 6, 2021 5:51 PM
Updated: May 6, 2021 6:22 PM

Brittany Roundtree

Brittany Roundtree is a Science teacher at Donovan Middle School in the Utica City School District. She has been at Donovan for three years and has made a tremendous impact on her students. Along with teaching, she tutors and mentors students in STEM after school in hopes that someday, some of them will enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math. It does not get much better than having a teacher extend herself and expose us to further knowledge connected to the real world. Brittany is an inspiring educator as she is the only African American science teacher in the Utica City School District. Prior to teaching science, Brittany earned the honor of a master’s in business administration from Wilmonton University.

She worked in student services at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC). Pre COVID-19, she was the director of the annual Christmas play for youths at St. Paul Church in Utica. She coordinated an annual Halloween event called Harvest on the Hill for over 2000 residents in the Cornhill area of the city of Utica. If this is not enough to keep any one person busy, Brittany is a very active member of Nu Psi Omega and she tutors her sorority sisters in technology so they can meet 21st century standards and virtual communication demands required since the COVID-19 in-person restrictions.

As you can see, Brittany is always teaching wherever she goes. If you have ever been around Brittany, you would have noticed that her energy is abounding, and her kindness is inviting. She will no doubt leave her mark on many students that cross her path during their lifetime.

Jackie Eck

I am writing you because my son has the most caring, kindhearted and empathic teacher this year. Over the summer, we found out that my son, who has a learning disability combined with ADHD, would only be attending school once every three days. He would be learning virtually all day long on his remote days. We made the decision to transfer him to the district that I work, Mount Markham. This was a tough choice for him since he is in 6th grade. He had a really difficult time fitting in and wanted to go back to his old school even though he knew this was not going to be easy for him.

Mrs. Jackie Eck, who was his resource room teacher, was very bothered by this decision, because she knew he would struggle both academically and emotionally. She had several conversations with both my son and I to convince us to keep him in her class. She rearranged his schedule, so that he was with a group of students with similar needs. She offered to keep him in her classroom at the end of the day with kids that made him feel comfortable. Whenever my son struggled with academic or social problems she would spend time helping him get through them. She has become his most favorite teacher and even when his district reopened, he wanted to stay with her for the remainder of the year. She has always looked out for the best interest of my son. We both have confided in her when issues came up. Whenever my son had appointments or missed school she would text me and see if he was ok. I am so grateful that he had the chance to have her as a teacher.

She made a very difficult year of school, successful for him. She went above and beyond the typical teacher responsibilities to make my son feel welcome and loved. We will never forget what she did for him this year. Thanks for considering Jackie Eck for your teacher appreciation award.

John Nicotera

It’s not easy teaching remotely, especially PE! Trying to get kids to exercise and have fun at the same time is always hard, but also some kids might be in their kitchens or living rooms or bedrooms while their siblings are trying to learn math or reading and their parents are trying to work from home or their grandparents are trying to learn how to turn on the computer! Mr. John Nicotera, a BOCES health and physical education teacher, has done a phenomenal job teaching our daughter.

Since BOCES is hosting remote learning for most of the area schools, he has hundreds of students he’s never met at a time, students being added & removed from his classes as various schools move from or to in-person learning, students from the city schools to the suburban and rural schools as well. He managed to blend these strangers together into a cohesive and invigorating unit, so that they felt like a real class. Our daughter just returned to her home school for in-person learning and she misses Mr. Nic.

She was not normally a big fan of PE, but Mr. Nicotera was so engaging and patient and fun, that she loved PE this year! He even taught the kids yoga and stress relief activities because he knew they were all anxious about the crazy school year. We want to acknowledge and thank Mr. Nic for a job well done.

Blake Pitcher

Blake Pitcher is an associate professor of digital graphics at Herkimer County Community College. He is a 1999 Herkimer College alum, earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY IT, and worked in online content creation prior to joining the faculty at Herkimer.

Blake’s courses in the Communication & Media, A.S. program focus on hands-on learning and allow his students to graduate with a robust portfolio of work.

He recently started The General, the College’s new student-run online news website, and works as an adviser for both Herkimer College’s student-submitted literary arts magazine Phaethon and the College’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.

The New York State School for the Deaf teachers

Ms Lee, Ms. Popovich and Ms. Wheelock

Outstanding teachers -- thanks for all you do!

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