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Top teacher popular with students - Home, careers instructor receives honor

Top teacher popular with students - Home, careers instructor receives honor

For Sadie McFadd, " Doreen Cechnicki " is one name she'll never forget.

For Sadie McFadd, " Doreen Cechnicki " is one name she'll never forget.

The seventh grade Mont Pleasant student said Cechnicki is not only her favorite teacher, but one of the best teachers she has ever had.

The Schenectady City School District agrees, naming Cechnicki as the 2007 Schenectady City School District Teacher of the Year early Wednesday morning. Superintendent Eric Ely and some of her coworkers interrupted her class during their final to present her with a bouquet of yellow and purple flowers and two congratulation balloons.

"I'm so embarrassed," she said as she fought back tears and blushed.

"This is such an honor. The teaching profession is one of the hardest out there," she said. "The award itself covers what it is I do, and it makes me feel good about my profession."

Cechnicki , a home and careers teacher at the middle school, knew she was nominated by a colleague but was unaware that she was chosen from the 19 candidates.

She said when she found out she was nominated by one of the new, young teachers in the middle school, she thought her young coworker was delusional.

"I knew that because I have a lot of experience there are things that just happen at my stage in my career," she said while wiping a tear from her eye, "and for a new person to notice those things and be a little bit in awe, is just what teaching is about."

Ely said she was chosen by a selection commitee, including teachers, administrators, board members and parent representatives, based on her nomination, her teaching career and what she has done for the school.

Cechnicki has been a teacher in the Schenectady school district since 2002, but previously taught in the Sharon Springs Central School District for 23 years. She graduated from Cobleskill High School in 1973, and she received her bachelor's degree from SUNY Oneonta in 1978 and her master's degree from SUNY Albany in 1984. She now lives in Canajoharie and has two grown children.

For the past 27 years, she has served as an advisor for a national youth leadership organization called Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). This program includes 50 Mont Pleasant Middle School students.

She is also the president of the New York State Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Educators, where she is involved in developing the curriculum for home and careers courses across the state.

Seventh-grader Kaylee Barbalace said Cechnicki 's class is the best class she's taken all year. Her favorite aspects of Cechnicki 's class are the hands on activities, like cooking and planning a fake party. She said Cechnicki is "really cool and awesome and if you have a question she'll always answer it."

Cechnicki said one of her favorite lesson plans is when she teaches students about food and nutrition.

"I like the idea that I am helping them learn how to make basic economical and well balanced meals," she said. "They are learning skills they will be able to use later in life." Under the nutrition section, Cechicki teaches a lesson called "Fast Food Fats" because of the present obesity issue. During this lesson, students are required to research fast food joints and find out quantities of fat that are in different items on the menu. She said the lesson gets them to do more than just think about eating -- it gets them to look at what exactly they are eating and whether it is nutritious.

In her years at Mont Pleasant, Cechnicki has coordinated numerous events, including an annual International Night and Career Day where she brings in dozens of speakers from different professions to talk to students.

She also worked on a project last year with students to beautify the courtyard at the middle school by planting flowers and adding new lighting. Cechnicki has another three years before she can consider retiring, but she said that it has been an absolute pleasure working in Schenectady.

"The kids here are a growing, young group. They are curious and interested, and my feeling is that they appreciate any exciting and active teaching that can be given to them," she said.

In the upcoming months, Cechnicki will have the opportunity to submit an application to be considered for the New York State Teacher of the Year Program. She said she wants to promote the Schenectady City School District in any way that she can.

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