Wantagh Master Teacher Excited to Learn and Grow

Wantagh Master Teacher Excited to Learn and Grow

Wantagh Elementary School STEAM teacher Kaitlin Humphrey has been accepted into the New York State Master Teacher program, which will provide her with additional professional development opportunities as well as connections with educators across the state. Ms. Humphrey was one of 230 teachers, including only 55 elementary teachers, selected for the program this year.

This is Ms. Humphrey’s sixth year in Wantagh. After working as a pre-K through sixth grade science teacher at the Harbor Country Day School in St. James, she joined the Wantagh teaching staff in 2016 as its first STEAM teacher. For four years, she taught third, fourth and fifth grade classes at all three elementary schools. 

After a year as a third grade classroom teacher, she returned to STEAM this year, working with grades K-5 at Wantagh Elementary School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in science in elementary education and biology and a master’s degree in science in special education, both from Manhattan College. 

“STEAM is fun and it’s naturally engaging,” she said about the subject which combines elements of science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. “It’s learning through discovery. It’s very rewarding for students to have experiences where they’re able to create and fail and redo. It mimics real life.”

Ms. Humphrey’s classroom is filled with materials that may not seem typical for a regular classroom, such as Legos and robots. She noted that the program, by its nature, does not have a defined curriculum. Some activities support and enhance classroom lessons, while others give students completely new and original educational experiences. Fourth graders build Rube Goldberg machines, fifth graders create and market their own inventions and all grades dabble in coding. Sometimes, students just have some free building time to explore their creativity. 

The decision to pursue the Master Teacher designation, Ms. Humphrey explained, stemmed from her desire to constantly improve the STEAM program. She will now get to take advantage of a wider range of workshops and training sessions. Master Teachers must do 50 hours a year of professional development. 

“I want to further my role in Wantagh and as a teacher in general,” she said. “Being a Master Teacher means more and richer professional growth opportunities, which I can bring into the classroom and share with my colleagues.”

Ms. Humphrey will be a part of the Master Teacher program for four years. However, she said, the opportunities for professional development continue beyond that and the connections she will make with other STEAM teachers will last a lifetime.

The Master Teacher program is hosted by SUNY campuses, and is supported on Long Island by Stony Brook University. The extensive application process required a detailed resumé, interviews, a writing sample, an original presentation and recommendations from administrators and fellow teachers.