2016 NYS Teacher of the Year returns to the Mount

October 15, 2015


Dana McDonough, 2016 New York State Teacher of the Year and Mount Saint Mary College alumna, returned to the college to discuss her teaching career.                        The talk marked McDonough’s first speaking engagement since being named 2016 NYS teacher of the Year on September 17. 

Dana McDonough, 2016 New York State Teacher of the Year and Mount Saint Mary College alumna, headed back to her alma mater on Thursday, October 8 to discuss her experiences as an educator and to aid aspiring teachers in realizing their academic dreams.

McDonough graduated from the Mount in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in education and in 2000 with a Masters of Science in Education with a reading specialization. She is a second grade teacher at Fostertown Magnet School in the Newburgh City School District, where she has served for 22 years. The Newburgh native holds a permanent New York State certification in elementary education.

McDonough said she first wanted to become a teacher when, at the age of eight, she visited her Aunt Arlene Sosta’s elementary classroom at Gardnertown Fundamental Magnet School.

“The first day I walked in, I knew I had discovered what I wanted to be,” McDonough revealed. “My aunt never said what it took to be a teacher. Instead, she demonstrated it with her commitment and her display of professionalism.”

Sosta was a member of the Mount’s first graduating class of laypeople in 1964. Noting her aunt’s success, McDonough attended the Mount as well.

McDonough offered important advice to teacher candidates: “Do not be discouraged,” she said. “This is a time to dig deep and preserve…Remember, the teaching profession is a marathon, not a sprint.”

She suggested setting the academic bar high for all students and using a variety of educational techniques to keep instruction fresh.

“You will need to adapt your teaching style as you get to know your children,” McDonough said. “If you believe in them, they will believe in themselves…Be creative, have fun, and don’t forget: it’s all about the children.”

Student teachers, added McDonough, have inspired her throughout her career.

“I attribute my professional development as an educator, in part, to what past and present student teachers bring to my classroom,” she revealed.

Mount grad student Laura Mowat of Cornwall, N.Y., McDonough’s current student teacher, said the benefit is mutual.

“She is just phenomenal,” said Mowat. “I’ve learned so much from her, from teaching techniques to interacting with the students. I’m privileged and blessed to be in her classroom this year.”

Former Mount education professor Joan Miller said McDonough shined long before being named the 2016 New York State Teacher of the Year.

“I remember her as a wonderful student,” said Miller. “She was always on point, learned what she had to learn, and did what she had to do.”

McDonough is the second Mount Saint Mary College alumna to be named NYS Teacher of the Year: Debra Calvino ‘81 also earned the honor in 2010.