Nichole Hantsch, a physical science teacher at Chenango Forks Middle School was named a finalist for the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year Award and has been recognized as being an outstanding educator by New York State and her peers.

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Hantsch graduated from Binghamton University with a bachelor's degree in biology in 2005, then went on to obtain a master's in teaching and a master's in biology in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

In a Q&A interview with Binghamton University's student newspaper earlier this month, Hantsch shared how her passion for teaching was sparked by her experiences at the university. She explained that she initially went to Binghamton University with the intention of pursuing a career in medicine. However, Professor Weixing Zhu in the Biological Sciences Department introduced her to research and convinced her to further her education by completing a master's degree in biology.

While pursuing her master's degree, Hantsch realized that she had a passion for sharing knowledge and experiences with others, which led her to pursue a graduate program in teaching. According to Hantsch, the Binghamton University School of Education (now the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership in Binghamton’s College of Community and Public Affairs) offered a comprehensive graduate teaching program that she was eager to try out.

As a science teacher, Hantsch says that she is passionate about engaging her middle school students and getting them excited to learn about science. She believes science education is critical in helping students understand advancements in medical technology and power resources, among other things. Her ultimate goal is to inspire her students to love science as much as she does and continue their education beyond middle school.

Hantsch is also a member of the New York State Master Teacher Program, which has provided her with opportunities for professional development. She completed four years in the program and says it helped her continue her learning and provided her with many unique and useful ideas to bring into the classroom.

The winner of the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year Award was given to Zachary Arenz, an elementary music teacher at Flower City School #54 in the Rochester City School District.

While she didn't win the main award, Hantsch says that she is honored and humbled to have been named one of only three finalists for the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year Award and is grateful for the impact she has had on her students.

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