Schodack teacher wins 'NYS History Teacher of the Year'

Jill Konopka
Created: August 09, 2020 02:56 PM

Ed Finney is a history teacher in the Schodack School District. He was recently named the 2020 NY History Teacher of the Year and is now in the running for the national title. Finney tells NewsChannel13 he was shocked to find out he had been nominated. Another panelist he was working with at an education conference in Texas last November submitted Finney for the recognition. 

“I was playing with my kids last Monday and they were driving me crazy and I checked my email and I was totally flabbergasted just to see that I won. And the amount of phone calls and emails I've received, have really made me quite happy,” said Finney.


Finney has been teaching Social Studies to middle and high school for nearly 25 years.  Finney credits his students and district officials for allowing him to be so successful.

 “I’m in a great environment: I have a fantastic administration who is really supportive of anything I want to do, and thinking outside the box and what can we do to help you. I've got great students which are probably the most important element. And supportive parents. It all works to, it just makes it easy. I have a great environment to try different things, adding a lot of technology to our class. I’m on the NYS council social studies technology Chair so with that I really started to bring in a lot of video projects for students. A lot of tech, a lot of hands on in the classroom. I don’t use a text book hardly at all, if at all. I try to make it fun.”

In fact on the last day of school in Schodack, before they shut down in March due to COVID, he won the NYS outstanding M.S. Teacher of the Year award.  We asked Finney about heading back to school in a couple weeks.

“I’m very confident going back into the building, so I’m not really worried about that aspect of it.  But one thing I know I’m going to make sure, is that there is going to be a seamless transition between remote and in line of learning, because with all the technology I’ve embedded into the classroom, it’s kind of, I want it to be easy for our students so they’re not hung up. So, if we’re in class one week and have to shut down the next week, it’s just a seamless transition. So that’s one of the things I’ll be working toward.” 

Finney says already incorporating technology, helps. “I felt that the remote teaching came very easy to me because of all the technology I’ve embedded into the classroom, but still, nothing replaces that contact with the students where you can see if they’re really excited about something, their struggles, so that was one part that I missed.  We have our tentative assignments, but things could still change because of COVID, I’m sure we’ll have everything soon.”

Finney explains he has dozens of tech tools and projects he is working on currently. 

“So I go through and I try to find lots of different things and I have a list of probably seventy different projects or tech tools I want to embed in the classroom, so it’s not just one thing. One of the things I’d like to expand on this year is more podcasting with my students, last year we started with a little podcasts online, making podcasts of the 1800’s and the wild west, so that was a lot of fun. And more video productions, so those are the types of things I enjoy doing that and watching their creativity. Definitely, it’s an interesting time to be a SS teacher, and I also teach civics as well. So with this, it’s all going to be brought in. I like to keep our civics classes our 12th graders to keep everything as real as possible for them. Effect them for everyday changes. It’s really hard to plan long term in a class like that because really there is stuff that everyday changes.“

Finney shared this message for students who may be interested in pursuing a career as a teacher.

 “To be able to get students excited about learning, there’s nothing better than that. Especially with SS. I got to be honest. A lot of times, kids come in they’re not overly excited MS SS, some old dead guy from the past why do you have to talk about it. But to see that light go on, and it’s one of my favorite classes, I loved it. There’s no better, that’s all the validation I need"

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