BY INDIANA NASH
NISKAYUNA — Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March announced his initiative to recognize teachers across New York state for their dedication and expertise through a $5,000 stipend for professional development.
Nominations were taken from March until June 1 and announcements of recipients began June 10.
Iroquois Middle School principal Vicki Wyld heard about the initiative and immediately nominated Frank Adamo, an eighth-grade English teacher at the school.
“I was surprised, but really honored just to be nominated by her,” Adamo said.
But after being nominated in late March, Adamo put thoughts of the award out of his mind and focused on coaching modified lacrosse, teaching Shakespeare and getting his students ready for their freshmen years of high school.
“When we didn’t hear anything back by June 10, I thought I just didn’t get it,” Adamo said.
Which was why, when he found himself called to the stage of the Iroquois Middle School auditorium June 21 to accept the award, he was beyond surprised.
In an interview with Adamo, this reporter asks about his teaching career, his most daunting challenges, and his greatest successes:
Nash: How long have you been teaching?
Adamo: I’ve been teaching at Iroquois for 15 years now and I’ve been in two classrooms the entire time. I taught in Otsego for a little while before coming here but I was lucky enough that there was an opening here not long after I graduated.
Nash: Where did you go to college and when did you graduate?
Adamo: I went to SUNY Oneonta and I studied English education. I started in 1996 and graduated in December of 2000. I also played lacrosse there.
Nash: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Adamo: The biggest challenge in regards to just being an English teacher is managing the workflow. With 129 students … I spend a significant amount of time reading their work and that is by no means a complaint. I’ve asked them to really read and write more than they ever have to prepare them for high school … There is a high level of interacting with technology. We use Google Drive so that students aren’t constantly handing me papers and we’re collaborating directly.
Nash: What is one of your most memorable successes?
Adamo: This year, I had a group of students who came up with this idea to interview three teachers, one from Niskayuna, one from India and one from China. From those interviews, they created their own teaching curriculum. Students come here and they are so literate, some of the work I get to read by them is just incredible.
Nash: What do you plan to do with the stipend for career development?
Adamo: It’s hard to say now because I’m not quite sure yet what some of the stipulations are behind the stipend. But every year there are opportunities that come along but just don’t work out and this will definitely help make those opportunities happen. I’d love to use it in a way that helps other teachers too. I’ve never gone to the National English Teachers Conference and there are a few others like that I want to go to.
As Adamo cleans out the room of debris from his 15th school year at Iroquois, he said that he’ll soon be antsy to get back and set it up for a new year.
BY INDIANA NASH