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June 13, 2017
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Names 2017 Better Beginnings Award Recipient And McGovern Scholarship Awardees

Lyndonville Central School District Teacher Named Better Beginnings Recipient;

Albany City School District and Averill Park Central School District Students Receive

2017 Chancellor McGovern Scholarships

The State Education Department named John Bailey, a music and band teacher in the Lyndonville Central School District, the 2017 recipient of the Better Beginnings Award, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today. The award celebrates the life and career of Helen Bach Moss, a young New York State educator who passed away in 1988. The Department also announced that Raphael Cohen of the Albany City School District and Ryan Nolan of the Averill Park Central School District have been awarded the Chancellor Joseph W. McGovern Scholarship. The Chancellor McGovern Scholarship provides two $500 awards to assist deserving sons or daughters of State Education Department employees in obtaining a postsecondary education

“I am honored to recognize Raphael and Ryan, outstanding students who have excelled not only academically but in their community involvement and extracurricular activities as well,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “Mr. Bailey makes connections with students with 100 percent of Lyndonville students enrolled in beginner band. Congratulations to all three of these worthy recipients.”

“John Bailey goes out of his way to develop relationships with his students—which was made clear by his nomination by students, parents, other educators and members of his community. He is exactly the kind of teacher New York needs and should recognize,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “All children deserve the chance to better themselves and the Chancellor McGovern scholarships will help these two students do just that. Raphael and Ryan are well-rounded students who will flourish and succeed in their future endeavors.”

Better Beginnings Award:

John Bailey, music and band teacher at Lyndonville Elementary School, was selected as the 2017 Better Beginnings Award recipient after consideration of nominations submitted from across the State. The Better Beginnings Award, which is sponsored by the Board of Regents, recognizes elementary teachers who are skilled at engaging young minds and developing nurturing relationships with elementary school students.

Mr. Bailey is very active within the community, modeling for students the importance of giving back. Recently, when a homeless student moved out of the district, he made arrangements with the student’s new district for the student to have an instrument so the student could continue playing.

A prize of $1,000 and a plaque of recognition will be presented to Mr. Bailey during a school concert held at Lyndonville Elementary School on June 15.

Runners-up for the award were Ms. Sabrina Dolfinger, a second-grade teacher at Horizons on the Hudson Magnet School in Newburgh and Ms. Ellen Lockman, a special education co-teacher and Resource Room teacher at Munsey Park Elementary School in Manhasset. They will each receive $250.

2017 Chancellor McGovern Scholarship:

The Chancellor McGovern Scholarship provides two $500 scholarships to assist deserving sons or daughters of State Education Department employees in obtaining a postsecondary education.

Raphael Cohen is the son of Tina Lieberman-Cohen, an Assistant in Education of Children with Disabilities in the Office of P-12 Education. Raphael is graduating from Albany High School and is a member of the National Honor Society.

In addition to excelling academically, Raphael has participated in many extracurricular activities. Above all else, Raphael has a passion for music. He has played piano since the age of three, composed original orchestral pieces, written a musical produced by Albany High School, and performed as part of a men’s acapella group. He also has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Albany High’s Theatre Department. Raphael’s future goal is to be a composer. This fall, Raphael will attend Brown University.     

Ryan Nolan is the son of Carla Nolan, an Associate in Education of Children with Disabilities in the Office of P12 Education. Ryan is graduating from Averill Park High School and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Ryan was an Eagle Scout, participated in Theatre Club where he acted in four full productions, joined his local fire department and enrolled in an EMT training course. He says the experience he gained through this course confirmed his interest in becoming a physician. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Ryan hopes to attend a 28-month Physician Assistant Program at Albany Medical College with a long-term goal to attend medical school. Ultimately, Ryan would like to be a physician in an emergency department at a trauma center.  This fall, Ryan will attend Siena College.

The scholarships are funded by an endowment established by former Chancellor Joseph W. McGovern in honor of the employees of the University of the State of New York (USNY) and the State Education Department.  

For additional information and applications for the Better Beginnings Award, please visit the Teacher Development Programs Unit of the New York State Education Department page.