Ward Melville Teacher Wins Empire State Excellence In Teaching Award


Priya Mukhi, Staff Writer

This past month, Ward Melville’s highly admired and cherished AP Statistics and Math 10 Honors Theory teacher Ms. O’Brien was awarded Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award. This award recognizes teachers throughout New York state who have successfully been able to motivate, inspire, and instill a love for learning in their students.

Ms. O’Brien received a $5,000 check during a surprise in-class ceremony presented by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, which she laughingly mentioned was “surprising and a little embarrassing.” The $5,000 grant will support professional development, so Ms. O’Brien plans to use her award to attend a variety of conferences and possibly take a statistics course online over the summer. Some of the conferences that she is interested in attending are the Joint Statistical Meeting held in Maryland and one held annually at Phillips Exeter Academy, which she describes as “an awesome conference, because it has all different maths… and it has statistics and trigonometry.”

Growing up, Ms. O’Brien didn’t think she would end up choosing teaching as her career. She explained, “My dad always said that teaching was a nice profession for a woman and that made me not want to do it. Yet, I found myself here after college, [because] I liked tutoring in college and it just seemed like a natural progression.”

So, what’s the next step for Ms. O’Brien? She says, “Since I retire in three years, I’m thinking that I might go back to school and get a masters in statistics. Or, I might apply to teach overseas for a year or two, that would be cool. Or maybe, I’ll just drink margaritas on the beach!”