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Five Amherst CSD Teachers Selected for the NYS Master Teacher Program

Christina Randazzo   Garrett Kensy   Michael Milliman   Stephen Johnson   Deanna Castle-Hebeler

Five teachers from the Amherst Central School District were selected to participate in the New York State Master Teacher Program, Western Region, by the State University of New York. Master Teachers are the highest-performing STEM teachers who join together as an expert community dedicated to developing one another's expertise in the areas of content, pedagogy, and students’ families and communities.

Amherst had the second highest number of teachers selected this year; second only to Buffalo City School District with seven.

The 2022-2023 group of master teachers from Amherst CSD are:

  • Christina Randazzo, a fourth-grade teacher at Windermere Boulevard Elementary, has worked at Amherst for 23 years. She said that hearing about the growth that past and current members of the Master Teacher Program have experienced prompted her to apply. She hopes that collaborating with other professionals will allow her to challenge her thinking, learn new practices, and ultimately benefit her students.
  • Garrett Kensy, a math teacher at Amherst Central High School, has been at Amherst CSD since 2011 and he applied to the program to expand his career goals and surround himself with new people and knowledge to give him a fresh perspective on the teaching profession. He said he hopes to learn new teaching methods and gain more ideas to better engage his students and to continue to improve his mathematics instruction.
  • Michael Milliman, a fifth-grade teacher at Smallwood Drive Elementary, has been employed at Amherst for 26 years. He applied to the master teacher program to grow in the areas of math and science instruction. He is looking to acquire new instructional practices, ideas, materials, and a fresh outlook on these subjects, as well as to develop professional relationships across the region.
  • Stephen Johnson, a seventh-grade math teacher at Amherst Middle School, has been teaching for 15 years, serving for nine years at Amherst Middle School teaching Math 7 and pre-algebra. In school, he strives to model lifelong learning and enjoys implementing new instructional technology. As a NYS Master Teacher, he looks forward to collaborating with energetic STEM educators, increasing opportunities to work with pre-service teachers, and strengthening the community of problem solvers created along with his students.
  • Deanna Castle-Hebeler, a first-grade teacher at Smallwood Drive Elementary, has worked at Amherst for 15 years. She applied because her teaching partner, Mrs. Chittenden, is a master teacher so she was able to see the benefits first-hand of the professional development and how it enhanced the planning and practice in both of the classrooms. She also had the opportunity to participate in master teacher workshops that were open to all teachers and experience being part of a community of teachers that are excited to learn more about teaching and learning. She knows that this program will make her a better teacher. She wants to continue to grow her content knowledge and pedagogy, so that she can do the best for her students.The master teacher program is focused on math and science, but much of the work can be transferred to other areas within her classroom.

With the addition of these five teachers, Amherst CSD now has 15 teachers participating in the New York State Master Teacher program. Amherst CSD faculty currently in the program are:

  • Christopher Kensy, an algebra teacher at Amherst Central High School
  • Amy Sorrentino, an Algebra 2 Regents and Precalculus Regents teacher at Amherst Central High School
  • Krista Jones, an eighth-grade math and Algebra Honors teacher at Amherst Middle School 
  • Kristen Shouldice, a second-grade teacher at Windermere Boulevard Elementary School
  • Lori Chittenden, a first-second grade teacher at Smallwood Drive Elementary School
  • Jill Zobel, kindergarten teacher at Smallwood Drive Elementary School, is a Master Teacher Emeritus
  • Erik Zobel, a physics teacher at Amherst Central High School, is a Master Teacher Emeritus  
  • Nancy Claxton, a seventh-grade science teacher at Amherst Middle School, is a Master Teacher Emeritus  
  • Jamie Cinelli, kindergarten teacher at Smallwood Drive Elementary School, is a Master Teacher Emeritus  
  • Stephanie Reddien, a math teacher at Amherst Central High School, is a Master Teacher Emeritus

The Master Teachers program was created in 2013. There are 921 NYS Master Teachers across the state and 549 Master Teacher Emeritus, a title given to those who successfully complete four years as a NYS Master Teacher. As part of the Western New York network, new master teachers will work with other master teachers from local school districts and future teachers studying at Buffalo State College to develop and share STEM content knowledge.

Chosen through an intensive selection process, the program requires a four-year commitment in addition to their classroom teaching responsibilities. Through cohort meetings, various workshops and summer programs, the master teachers collaborate to bring content and instructional best practices back to their ACSD classrooms, to mentor education majors at Buffalo State and to inspire Amherst CSD students to consider teaching as a career choice.