Two William Floyd High School science teachers — Victoria Hernandez and Anya Swiss — have been selected to join the ranks of the prestigious New York State Master Teacher Program, a professional development and networking community which promotes and celebrates the work of the state’s high-performing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers.
Mrs. Hernandez and Ms. Swiss are among this year’s class of 228 educators across the state and just 27 from Nassau and Suffolk counties. They are the seventh and eighth Master Teachers from the William Floyd School District, respectively, joining their colleagues who have been recognized for their dedication to the teaching profession, commitment to professional growth and enthusiasm for sharing best practices with their colleagues. There are currently 156 Master Teachers in the Long Island region since the program’s inception, which translates to having nearly six percent of the Long Island region’s Master Teachers employed in the William Floyd School District. Additionally, William Floyd is only one of four Long Island school districts to have multiple Master Teachers inducted this round — Half Hollow Hills, Three Village and Uniondale being the others.
In the announcement, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul congratulated the 228 new Master Teachers for “their invaluable leadership and skills in STEM education.” Lt. Gov. Hochul added, “Teachers dedicate their lives to educating our youth and inspiring them to succeed inside and outside the classroom. The Master Teachers program continues to expand, recognizing professionals’ growth and commitment to educating students in the fields of the future.”
“Receiving this recognition feels incredible, as this is something that I have been working toward for years,” said Mrs. Hernandez. “I am really looking forward to continuing to progress with the professional development that the NYS Master Teacher Program has to offer.”
“I am extremely honored to join the NYS Master Teacher Program,” added Ms. Swiss. “I am most excited to engage in professional development and increase my content and pedagogical skills, and share this information with my William Floyd colleagues.”
Mrs. Hernandez, who currently serves as the science research teacher at William Floyd High School, has been a member of the William Floyd school community since 2015. She has experience facilitating student research and oversees an award-winning program with multiple prestigious awards to its credit including honors at the JV Long Island Science & Engineering Fair, the New York State Science and Engineering Fair Andromeda, the Long Island Science Congress, the NYS Science and Technology Entry Program Research competitions and the STEM Diversity Summit Research competition. She was also instrumental in bringing the district its first-ever semifinalist in the nationwide Intel Science Talent Search. Mrs. Hernandez has also served as a science research teacher for the Science and Technology Entry Program at Stony Brook University, the high school mentor for students involved in research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center and the National Synchrotron Light Source II at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She is also the principal investigator of the High School Spectroscopy Block Allocation Group at Brookhaven National Laboratory overseeing other teachers involved and their students’ research. She graduated with a BS in marine science from Stony Brook University and an MS in adolescent science education from Dowling College.
Ms. Swiss, a member of the William Floyd High School Class of 2004, is currently an earth science and AP biology teacher at William Floyd High School. She has been a science teacher at William Floyd High School since 2010. She currently serves as an advisor for the Science and Technology Entry Program at Stony Brook University and as the program’s research teacher. She is the founding advisor of the high school’s New York State Science Honor Society, a new honor society designed to recognize outstanding William Floyd students in science. She has had the honor of presenting at the LISTEMELA (Long Island STEM Education Leadership Association), a professional organization of LI STEM educators, served as a mentor for both students and faculty, as well as recently garnering acceptance as an alumni mentor at Stony Brook University. She is a former SPARK teacher (Student Partnership for Advanced Research and Knowledge) facilitating research at Brookhaven National Laboratory with the National Synchrotron Light Source II. She graduated with a BS in biology from Stony Brook University and an MA in teaching from Stony Brook University.
As a Master Teacher over the next four years, Mrs. Hernandez and Ms. Swiss will engage in peer mentoring and intensive content-oriented professional development opportunities throughout the academic year; work closely with pre-service and early-career teachers to foster a supportive environment for the next generation of STEM teachers; attend required regional cohort meetings; and participate in and lead several professional development sessions each year.
Mrs. Hernandez and Ms. Swiss join six other William Floyd colleagues who have already been honored as New York State Master Teachers – Kristen Drury (emeritus), science, WFHS; Matthew Furlani, mathematics, WFMS; Anne Ippolito (emeritus), science, WFHS; Dr. Luisa McHugh (emeritus), former WFMS science teacher and current science chairperson; Martin Palermo (emeritus), science, WFHS; and Christine Rosado (emeritus), former WFHS mathematics teacher and current director of secondary education and STEM, William Floyd School District. You can read about their Master Teacher announcements here, here and here.