Pequenakonck Elementary School's Natalie Koehler named New York State Master Teacher


Pequenakonck Elementary School library media specialist Natalie Koehler is one of 230 New York educators named Master Teachers. (Image courtesy of Natalie Koehler)

Pequenakonck Elementary School library media specialist Natalie Koehler has been selected as a New York State Master Teacher. Koehler is one of 230 educators statewide to have been selected for the program in 2022. Master Teachers spend four years collaborating with one another to advance STEM learning for public school students across grades K-12. The program, which launched in 2013, operates in partnership with The State University of New York and Math for America.

“We are truly pleased to welcome Natalie to this exciting and dynamic program where she will have the opportunity to work with like-minded K-12 STEM educators that exhibit similar levels of talent and passion–those that continually push the boundaries of their practice to create more powerful learning opportunities in our STEM classrooms,” Josephine Salvador, executive director of the New York State Master Teacher program, wrote in a letter to North Salem Central School District administrators notifying them of Koehler's acceptance into the program.

The Master Teacher program is hosted at nine SUNY campuses across the state to leverage the expertise of the University’s faculty and existing educator preparation programs. Koeher will participate in a minimum of 50 hours of training and development with 135 fellow Mid-Hudson educators at SUNY New Paltz, through a mix of in-person workshops and online sessions conducted over Zoom.

“I’m looking forward to sharing what I do but also learning what other districts are doing,” said Koehler, who has been an educator for 19 years. Koehler first applied for the program pre-COVID. At the time, she was excited to share what she was doing with the Makerspace at PQ. Situated within the PQ library, the Makerspace gives students the opportunity to create, problem solve and experiment with STEM-related projects, including coding and engineering.

Two years later, the nature of Koehler’s (and every teacher’s) work has changed dramatically. “COVID accelerated the infusion of computers into everything,” she said, noting that a new area of focus has been helping kids manage impulsivity on computers, and learning how to manage their time.

“I want to continue to have kids question the role of computers in society – looking at that objectively, thinking about that media balance, privacy, basic digital citizenship concepts,” Koehler said. “Everybody needs some basic knowledge. It’s not just for Makerspace; it’s our lives.”

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