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Southold science teacher selected to state’s master teaching program

Tim McArdle’s career path was mapped out by the time he graduated Pat­ch­ogue-Medford High School. He became a teacher. And now, he’ll be teaching teachers.

That comes with his selection to the New York State master teacher program. Mr. McArdle, a Southold Junior-Senior High School science teacher, is among 230 teachers representing 159 school districts that were selected in the areas of science, technology, computer science, robotics, coding, engineering, math and integrated science, technology, engineering and math courses across grades K-12.

Mr. McArdle, 36, who applied for inclusion two years ago, learned of his acceptance Feb. 11 by email. “It’s an exciting benchmark of my career,” he said.

Mr. McArdle began teaching in the school district in 2013. He teaches a variety of grades, mostly seventh- and eighth-graders, as well as high school earth science, one of his passions.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the selection of teachers earlier this month. With these newest additions to the program, created in 2013, the number of selected master teachers across the state has grown to over, 1,400, according to the governor’s office.

The program entails a four-year commitment in which those selected receive an annual $15,000 stipend, engage in peer mentoring and professional development and attend regional meetings.

“I’m going to be learning a lot more real science instead of just surface level, and I’m going to be trying to bring back a lot of those pieces into my classroom and give my children a better experience,” said Mr. McArdle.

In addition, he will make presentations to student teachers and early-career teachers, talking to them about such things as designing lessons and his approach to teaching.

Mr. McArdle sees his involvement in the master program as a way to offer more, beyond textbooks, to his students.

“One of the broader purposes is to get teachers excited again about real science,” he said. “That’s the goal … The older I get, the more I’m interested in learning even more every day because I want to bring a good, quality product to my kids.”

Southold Junior-Senior High School principal Terence Rusch called Mr. McArdle’s selection “a tremendous achievement.”

Mr. Rusch said Mr. McArdle is a “phenomenal teacher. Every time we’re in [his classroom], the kids are smiling, they’re active, they’re doing things.”

As a youngster, Mr. McArdle had a pretty clear idea in his mind as to what he wanted to do for a living. All he had to do was look at his parents, who were both teachers. “I thought that they had a good quality of life and a lot of it made sense to me, so it’s kind of the path I followed,” he said.

Mr. McArdle completed his undergraduate studies at SUNY/Oneonta, where he received a bachelor’s degree in earth science education. Then he attended Stony Brook University, where he earned a master’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in earth science.

Mr. McArdle’s school day is spent in the same classroom at the middle school building. “The entire middle school science department is me, all by myself,” he said.

“Being a teacher, I love seeing that interest of students, that excitement,” he said. “I teach mostly middle school students and I have to say, they’re highly interested in almost everything I do, and it persuades me to keep bringing my best to them on an everyday basis. So, their interest level in the concept that I love is really the driving force for me.”

Mr. McArdle is not only a teacher, but also a coach. Last fall he completed his first season as the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck football coach. He also coaches the Southold/Greenport girls track and field team.

“I think my coaching experience has really played a part with my teaching experience because coaching is teaching, and teaching is coaching,” he said. “It’s the same thing. It’s just a different venue … I tell the kids all the time, my football field is the biggest classroom.”

Mr. McArdle’s introduction to teaching years ago was, in a word, overwhelming.

“A lot of people joke around about the teaching profession that, you know, we go to work early, but we’re home early and we get all this vacation time off, yada, yada, yada,” he said. “I hear it from my friends all the time. Those first couple of years I was really learning my craft of becoming a teacher. The amount of work I did from sunup to sundown was unbelievable. That’s all I did. My life revolved around it … I was just learning so much. I was learning the good, the bad, this and that, and I was really overwhelmed about the workload.

“I was also overwhelmed about the impact that I had on students’ lives. You don’t realize a kid that sits in your class and stares at you as I talk all period, how important that could be for a kid, and a small conversation can go a really long way for certain kids. I was shocked as a young 22-year-old teacher that I’m impacting a kid’s life that is only a handful of years younger than me, and that was shocking. It is scary.”

Now, Mr. McArdle hopes younger teachers can benefit from his experience.

“I am excited to work with some of these young teachers because I know the mistakes they’re going to make before they make them,” he said. “I know the pressures they’re going to feel before they feel them.”

Mr. McArdle and his wife, Katherine, a certified teacher who is not currently teaching, have been together since they were in high school. They live in Pat­ch­ogue with their three children: Cole, 7, Tristan, 5, and Rylie, 2.

Now, Mr. McArdle opens a new chapter in his professional career.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s definitely up there, but you know, the real rewarding thing is what I do day to day. This kind of just more validates what I do.”

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