PULASKI, NY – Pulaski Middle School students selected eighth grade social studies teacher Jordan Fahnestock as the 2015 Middle School Educator of the Year.
While Fahnestock earned the most votes, every teacher in the middle school received at least one vote, according to Jill Truax, teacher and student government association adviser.
Truax also coordinates the annual award ceremony and introduced student representatives from the eighth grade who read their nominations, noting Fahnestock’s support and caring approach to teaching as factors in their decision to nominate him.
Sophie Lawrence summed it all up by saying, “He (Fahnestock) has taught us to learn by loving to teach.”
Presenting the award to Fahnestock was last year’s Educator of the Year Tony LiVoti, who had spoken last week at the National Honor Society induction ceremony about the importance of good character.
He taught Fahnestock in school and told stories of him as a student and member of his cross country and track team, and noted that he has always been a good person of character.
“I am proud to have had him as a student, a member of my cross-country and track teams and proud to have had him as a fellow teacher,” he said.
LiVoti retired from teaching at Pulaski Middle School at the end of last school year.
Fahnestock, in an emotional and humble acceptance said that there are so many deserving teachers at the school he was nearly overwhelmed saying, “How lucky I am to work for a place like Pulaski.”
He spoke how no matter how early he came in to work or how late he stayed after school, he was never alone, but other teachers were also there.
“They care so much to make you successful,” he said to the students assembled and asked for a round of applause for the teachers.
“I’ve been dreading this day,” Fahnestock said regarding the last day of school for students, and with tears in his eyes he said, “I don’t want to say goodbye to you eighth graders.”
Fahnestock who taught seventh grade social studies, moved up to eighth grade with the current eighth grade class and developed a close bond with them serving for two years as their class adviser and leading them in back-to-back victories in Pep Fest.
He encouraged the students to always “dream big” speaking about how his dream in high school was to one day be a teacher and coach at Pulaski.
“Dream big,” he said, “they come true.” He also advised students to “surround yourself with good people.”
He talked about the importance of having people who support your dreams and encourage you to work hard.
“I am proud to have a mother and wife that care so much that they come to my middle school teacher of the year award ceremony,” he said, pointing to the two women seated in the back of the auditorium.
In closing, Fahnestock said, “I want to thank the eighth grade class. You have taught me more than I have taught you. You pushed me out of my comfort zone to become a better person.”
Following the ceremony, the eighth graders crowded around Fahnestock for a group photo and an emotional farewell.