Two from Liberty to be honored by MHSSC 

Liberty High School English Teacher Michele Clark and Liberty Central School District Board of Education member John Nichols will be honored by the Mid-Hudson School Study Council later this spring.

Michele Clark

Michelle ClarkClark will receive a Teaching Excellence Award, which is “designed to recognize those teachers who have demonstrated excellence in achieving the educational mission at their BOCES, district, or campus level,” according to the MHSSC.

Clark, who has taught English for 30 years, 25 of them at Liberty, will be honored for her commitment to her students and the school community.

“Clark is more than just a teacher; she is a dynamic educator who continuously innovates and enhances her craft,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan wrote in nominating her for the award. “Her dedication to professional development and her willingness to explore new teaching methodologies have resulted in engaging and effective lessons that resonate with her students.”

High School Principal Derek Adams agreed, writing in his nomination letter: “In the classroom, Michele exhibits exceptional educational talent, employing effective instructional practices that not only engage students but also yield tangible results in terms of academic growth and achievement.”

Her excellence goes beyond the lessons, Sullivan wrote, calling her “a caring individual who prioritizes building meaningful relationships with her students and colleagues alike.”

“She creates a supportive and inclusive learning environment where every student feels valued and empowered to succeed,” he added. “Her genuine care and concern for her students extend beyond the classroom, as she actively participates in extracurricular activities and mentorship programs to further enrich their educational experience.”

Adams’ noted Clark’s work as Allusions co-advisor, where creative writing, poetry and artistic work come together in the annual Allusions publication.

She is also a leader for her peers, Adams wrote. She is a department facilitator and hosts weekly professional learning community groups to improve her department. “She exemplifies leadership qualities that inspire others and contribute to the professional development of the entire faculty,” he wrote. “She embodies the highest ideals of teaching excellence and is truly deserving of this prestigious honor.”

John Nichols

John NicholsNichols, who has served on Liberty’s school board for more than a decade, including time as board vice president and five years as president, will receive a School Board Service Award. The award is “designed to recognize those individuals who through their selfless efforts have helped guide, support, promote and serve the school districts and communities they represent,” according to the MHSSC.

“The mission of the Liberty Central School District is to empower each student to contribute and thrive in a diverse community by pursuing their potential,” Sullivan wrote in his nomination letter for Nichols. “After reading our mission, I am honored to state that Mr. John Nichols has exemplified our mission throughout his work as a Liberty Central School District Board of Education member.”

Nichols’ goals, Sullivan wrote, “are to provide students with the opportunities and resources to help our students achieve, uphold fiscal responsibility, and represent the entire Liberty Community.”

And that is something Nichols has done well, Sullivan wrote.

Nichols “always stresses the importance of leveraging our resources to expand our curriculum, supports each student that walks through our hallways and relays the voice of his constituents,” Sullivan wrote.

Sullivan also pointed out Nichols’ dedication to students and tradition. In his role as board president and a volunteer firefighter, Nichols, a 1985 LHS graduate, helped the district safely resume the homecoming bonfire during the 2021-22 school year.

Fiscal responsibility is also important to Nichols.

“Mr. Nichols has a strong understanding of our school budget, and he continuously balances fiscal responsibility and innovation,” Sullivan wrote. “(He) continuously supports our Strategic Plan from his Board of Education capacity and has advocated for a minimal tax increase for our school community for several years,” calling him “a true champion for our students, faculty, staff and taxpayers.”

“Liberty would not be on its trajectory if it wasn’t for Mr. Nichols’ leadership,” Sullivan wrote.

The awards will be presented at the MHSSC’s Annual Meeting & Awards Celebration on Wednesday, May 8, in the Fieldstone Auditorium in North Rockland School District

This year, the MHSSC split its awards into two ceremonies. LHS Teaching Assistant Nancy Katzenberger was honored this fall as one the recipients of the MHSSC’s Support Staff Award for Excellence in Education.