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For Immediate Release September 13, 2010

For More Information Contact:
Tom Dunn, Jonathan Burman or Jane Briggs at (518) 474-1201




The New York State Board of Regents presented two outstanding educators with New York State Teacher of the Year awards.  The Thomas Sobol Award and The David Johnson Award, both created as annual gifts for recipients of this Award, were presented to the 2011 New York State Teacher of the Year, Mr. Jeffry E. Peneston, whose service begins in September 2010, and to Mrs. Debra Calvino, who served as the 2010 New York State Teacher of the Year from September 2009 through September 2010.  Each of these outstanding teachers was also presented with a certificate of recognition honoring their identification as the State’s outstanding educator.

Mr. Peneston, the 41st New York State Teacher of the Year, is a high school Earth Science teacher at Liverpool High School in Liverpool. He has taught both Academic and Honors classes and has collaborated on the Earth Science Symposium, an Honors requirement.  Known for facilitating student success, he has developed a variety of field experiences designed to enhance student learning via hands-on science exploration.

Jeff has motivated students to take part in science research and competition and several of his pupils have won significant awards.  He is a lifelong learner who takes part in extensive professional development, including his participation in the 2008 Polar Trek Teacher Program, a seven week National Science Foundation and Arts Research Consortium Program that allowed teachers to take part in an international voyage to Antarctica for hands on research.

Jeff shared benefits of this experience via a series of web casts and lessons that enabled his students to follow his activities and learn through this unique opportunity.  He is viewed as a collaborative teacher who has generously shared his expertise with colleagues.  He has mentored many student teachers and models innovative instructional approaches throughout his school community.

Mr. Peneston’s honors and awards include the District Teacher of the Year Award for the Liverpool Central School District (2009-2010), the 2010 Technology Alliance of Central New York Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Polar Trek Teacher Award in 2008. He has won several significant grants through his exemplary work with science students and fellow educators.

Mr. Peneston’s community involvement and activities are extensive.  He has served as summer Program Director and Natural History Educator Director for Camp Talooli in Penneleville for over 25 years.  He has involved his community via leadership roles for the American Camp Association, Chorus and Drama Organization, Marching Band and Color Guard Booster Groups and Science Fairs.

Finalists for 2011 New York State Teacher of the Year were: Mr. Michael Elliot, a social studies teacher of grades 7 and 8 teacher at North Albany Academy in Albany; Mr. Michael A. Jeziorski, a high school social studies teacher at Commack High School in Commack; Ms. Jodi Sobczak, a 1st grade teacher at Brocton Elementary School in Brocton; and Mrs. Martha Strever, an 8th grade mathematics and computer science teacher at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook.

Mrs. Debra Calvino, who was recognized for her year of service as the 40th New York State Teacher of the Year, is a veteran teacher of twenty-seven years.  She has attained a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration, in addition to her credentials in mathematics and special education.  Debra’s efforts have helped instill a love of mathematics in generations of students, leading many of them to success in math-related studies and career paths, including teaching. Mrs. Calvino is known for her outstanding ability to help all students succeed and for her advocacy for students, families, fellow teachers and community organizations.

Mrs. Calvino helped lead her district towards outstanding mathematics scores on the State’s mathematics exams. She has served as a master trainer in data strategies. Her efforts helped foster district-wide support for and use of data-driven instruction.  She has also enhanced district resources through her extensive grant writing and advocacy efforts.   Her service includes leadership roles in helping to develop the district’s comprehensive accountability plan and serving on other key district committees. As 2010 Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Calvino considered herself an ambassador for teaching, and valued the opportunity to highlight the importance of the profession.

The State Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers (NYSPTA); the New York State Association for School Curriculum Development (NYSASCD); ING Financial Services, Inc.; International Business Machines (IBM); the Smarter Kids Foundation; SMART Technologies; and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The program is run in conjunction with the National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by CCSSO.

Applications for the Teacher of the Year Program are available in the fall of each year from the Teacher Development Programs Unit of the New York State Education Department at (518) 486-6042 or online at:  Individuals identified to Education Department as outstanding teachers are also mailed applications.


New York State Board of Regents
The State Education Department / The University of the State of New York / Albany, NY 12234
Office of Communications / (518) 474-1201

Last Updated: September 14, 2010