Year Honored: 2010Hamilton Elementary School and Van Corlaer Elementary School
At the time of the Award, Heather O'Leary was:ESL Teacher
Van Corlaer Elementary School
Subject(s) taught: English as a Second Language
Grade(s): K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Heather O’Leary’s teaching speaks volumes about her character and commitment to her students. As an English Language Learners (ELL) instructor at Van Corlaer Elementary, she never stops striving to develop her students’ English skills, so that they can become successful in their mainstream classrooms in the fastest, most effective way possible. Going above and beyond for her students is just part of the job for O’Leary.
Making sure students have as many opportunities as possible to learn English and socialization skills is her top priority. O’Leary regularly organizes field trips to museums and picnics for students and their parents at her own expense. She has been known to drive scholarship applications to students’ homes if parents can’t pick them up, and hosts family support events for both students and parents to acclimate them to the process of test-taking and evaluation. Her efforts paid off when two of her students last year received Exxon Mobil Summer Science Camp scholarships, and seven others were awarded scholarships to attend the Albany Institute of History and Arts.
Each year Van Corlaer achieves Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in ELL math and English/Language arts due to O’Leary’s holistic approach to teaching. Last year, the school was ranked first in English Language Acquisition (ELA) and math out of 15 schools in the district. O’Leary serves on the district task force, the school’s improvement committee and participates in Bilingual Education Technical Assistance Center (BETAC) professional development programs.