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PE Teacher Surprised With NYS Excellence in Teaching Award

Edison Elementary School and the PTA held its annual Flag Day/Citizenship Celebration on the afternoon of June 14, and a representative of Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrived to surprise Edison Elementary physical education teacher Nicole Zugelder with the prestigious Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award.

The Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program recognizes 60 teachers across New York State who receive an award from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the opportunity to advise education policy makers, and a stipend of $5,000 for continued learning and professional development.

The program honors outstanding individuals who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, working to foster creativity, instill a love of learning, and inspire independent thinking and student initiative. Judges include leaders from the School Administrators Association of New York State, the New York State United Teachers, United Federation of Teachers, New York State Council of School Superintendents, New York State Parent Teacher Association, and the State University of New York. The fact that Zugelder won the award was a closely kept secret in the weeks leading up to the celebration.

Principal David King described Zugelder as a dynamic, hard-working educator who aligns physical education with ELA and math standards.

“Her Wellness Nights, winter and spring field days and daily drive to make Edison students wellness-conscious are stellar additions to our program,” King said.

The very special Flag Day celebration, which is organized by the school and PTA, was crowded with students, staff, parent volunteers and other guests on a sunny picture-perfect Thursday afternoon. The event included the ceremonial raising of the flag, patriotic songs by the chorus led by music teachers Ron Bordinaro and Paul LaDuca, recognition for retiring Edison Elementary staff (teacher aide Deborah Ehms and teachers James O’Connor and Mary Wedgwood), and a parade around the school. Fourth-grade students Hannah Czaja and Cole Wahler were also awarded the school’s Amanda Taub Veazie Memorial Award for Excellence.