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June 8, 2011

40th Anniversary Alumni Spotlight: Mary Read Courtney ’09; 2011 High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year in Rochester

Mary Read Courtney ’09 graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching from the School for Graduate Studies. She recently was named 2011 High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year by the Rochester chapter of the American Chemical Society. She teaches chemistry and earth science at the Rochester Early College International School.

Mary Read Courtney Courtney began teaching chemistry and earth science in 2007 in three of the high schools at Edison Tech in Rochester, after becoming certified through Empire State College through the M.A.T. program, which places teachers in high-need districts. In the spring of 2008, she won a 2008 Career in Teaching First Year Teacher Award.

She says she is gratified by her “dramatic, direct impact, especially on students who otherwise might have fallen through the cracks.”

Courtney, a single parent, studied at Empire State College while she was also working. “After I found out about the flexibility of Empire State College, I completed the application for the M.A.T. degree within one week. My mentor was phenomenal, coaching me through,” she says. “After observing me, my mentor made a huge impact on the way I teach for my students’ success.”

She adds that she and her peers provided moral support for each other.

“Empire State College was absolutely the right experience for me at the right time. In fact, I graduated from college at the same time that my teenager graduated from high school. I was his role model for being a student – and he thought that was cool.”

In the past, Courtney was a consultant on environmental issues to the United Nations.  She has a B.S. from St. Lawrence University in Chemistry, where she was a President's Scholar and a member of the leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa.

In honor of the college's 40th anniversary year, we will spotlight alumni from across the college, celebrating the range of academic, career and personal paths; geographic locations; modes of learning; and life circumstances and experiences supported by a SUNY Empire State College degree program.

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