The New York State Board of Regents announced Sept. 17 that Ashli Skura Dreher, a high school special education teacher at the Lewiston-Porter Central School District who lives on Grand Island, has been named the 2014 New York State Teacher of the Year.
Dreher was presented with a certificate of recognition by Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. Dreher was also presented with the Thomas Sobol Award and the David Johnson Award, both created as annual gifts for recipients of the Teacher of the Year award.
Dreher, the 44th New York State Teacher of the Year, has been teaching in the Lewiston-Porter Central School District for 15 years and is the first teacher in the district to earn National Board Certification for Professional Teaching Standards, one of teaching's highest honors. She currently teaches special education in an 8:1:1 high school classroom working with students with moderate intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities.
"Ashli is truly a model of teaching excellence; she is the kind of teacher principals want to lead a class and parents want to teach their children," King said. "What I find most impressive about Ashli is her drive to continuously improve her practice. She has achieved the gold standard of teaching, National Board Certification, and is now doing dissertation-level doctoral work. Ashli's students, of course, are the ones who benefit most from her tireless dedication to honing her craft - they are fortunate to have such an extraordinary teacher."
"New York's teachers are among the best and most professional in the nation. Still, Ashli manages to stand out," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "In her classroom, students with special needs receive a mix of research-based instruction and innovative lessons. Her focus on community and volunteerism, and her close collaboration with parents, make her a sterling example of what happens when great teachers and concerned parents work together on behalf of our children. I join every member of NYSUT in congratulating her."
"Ashli has developed a most unique learning experience for her students," Lewiston-Porter High School Principal Paul Casseri said. "Certainly the learning in her class is focused on life skills and workplace experiences, but at the same time a strong emphasis is placed on academic rigor and literacy development."
Dreher is currently a dissertation level doctoral student in the Teaching and Curriculum Department of the University of Rochester's Margaret Warner School of Education and Human Development, where she enjoys researching literacy, specifically the best instructional practices for teaching reading to students with moderate intellectual disabilities.
Dreher also served as the NYSUT Education and Learning Trust regional coordinator for the Western New York and Rochester areas for 10 years to promote turnkey training and professional development for teachers and aspiring teachers, and she continues to serve as an instructor in the program teaching undergraduate courses for Ulster County Community College.
The State Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by the New York State United Teachers; the United Federation of Teachers; the New York State Parents and Teachers Association; the New York State Association School Curriculum Development; the New York State School Board Association; the School Administrators Association of NYS; the New York State Association of Teacher Educators; the New York Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; ING Financial Services, Inc.; the Smarter Kids Foundation; SMART Technologies; and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The program is run in conjunction with the National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by CCSSO.