ENDWELL (WBNG) — Rachel Murat is a veteran teacher at Maine-Endwell High School. This year, marks her 24th year in the district.
“This is where my heart is fulfilled. I love to be here, I love this community. They stand up for everybody. They help everybody in need,” said Murat.
Everyday she walks into room 144, to teach more than just social studies.
“Kids come first, learning comes second in the sense that we make sure the kids are being taken care of, their needs are being met,” she said.
And after all these years, Mrs. Murat is being recognized with one of the highest honors, 2020 New York State Teacher of the Year.
“The state has 210 thousand amazing educators who are important to all of our students and so I don’t take this recognition lightly, and I know I have a responsibility to be an ambassador for all of our teachers,” she said.
Murat’s teaching philosophy helped get her here. She cares about her students’ needs, and says that’s what comes first.
“We need to meet their social and emotional needs before any learning can happen. Because if we’re not meeting those needs, somebody’s sleeping on the floor, somebody doesn’t have enough to eat, something else is going on, the learning’s not going to happen. So we need to make it an environment where the learning is going to happen. So kids come first, end of story,” said Murat.
Her students remain her priority, and always have.
“When my room is empty, there’s a part of me missing,” said said. “When they’re here, there’s just so much more joy.”
She even has a corner in her classroom dedicated to some former students.
“I am lucky enough to get senior pictures from kids who feel like they’d like to give me a picture and I’d like to remember them. And when I was fixing the display this summer, it was very emotional for me because every picture I’ve touched, there was a memory. Whether it was a laugh, whether it was a smile, whether I cried, it was a memory. And those are important to me, because I am who I am because of them,” said Murat.
While her hard work has not gone unnoticed by New York State, the same is true for her students.
“She just makes everything so welcoming and so warm, and it’s just such a nice feeling to have her as a teacher and just have this room as a classroom in the school to know that you can come to and be safe,” said senior Sophie Folejewski.
Murat was also a finalist for 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year.
Thursday, Maine-Endwell will celebrate her award and recognize her accomplishment at an all-school event.