“You have set a gold standard,” he said. “Your efforts have empowered countless students to reach their full potential.”
State Senator Bill Larkin Jr. handed Linda Romano, head of Newburgh Free Academy’s Nurse Aide Program, a proclamation from the New York State Senate at NFA North on Monday. “We recognize you for what you’ve done for our area, our city and our state,” Larkin said to Romano.
The health-science teacher has been named the 2018 National Teacher of the Year by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Romano stood in her classroom, surrounded by students and hospital beds, at a small ceremony held in her honor on Monday.
“I worked as a nurse, never thinking I’d be taking care of such wonderful individuals,” Romano said, tearing up as she spoke. “I totally believe in all of you,” she said to the students. “We love you Ms. Romano,” they shouted.
NFA’s Nurse Aide Program was started by Romano in 2006. According to the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, “Thanks to Ms. Romano’s unique blend of traditional, modern and out-of-the-box teaching methods, the health-science program has grown enrollment from 12 students to 214 students in the span of 11 years.”
NFA North Principal Matteo Doddo recalled the day in 2010 when the program moved into its current space on Robinson Avenue. “She kissed the floor,” Doddo said, describing Romano’s reaction.
Prior to coming to NFA, Romano ran a home healthcare program for Arden Hill Life Care Center, now known as Elant, Inc. According to the school district, Romano has served on various school teams, organized numerous blood drives, conducted CPR/AED training for staff and students and written curriculum for the nursing program. “This tireless work comes from Ms. Romano’s heart and without fanfare,” Doddo wrote in his nomination letter to ACTE.
Romano, a registered nurse, also teaches at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, where she is developing a health-science class that integrates math and literacy.
At the ceremony, Roman explained she struggled in high school. Fortunately, she found guidance and inspiration from one of her mentors. “There was somebody who loved me, and guided me and made me believe in myself,” Romano said.
As a teacher, she tries to show her students similar care and attention. “That’s the only way I can connect,” Romano said following the ceremony. “I’m a nurturing person.”
“She deserves it. She’s so caring,” said NFA senior Sarpreet Singh, who plans to enroll in a pre-medical program when she gets to college next year. “She devotes a lot of time to us, when she doesn’t have to.”
“She lives in Pennsylvania and has to drive an hour and a half to get here,” said program senior Saaraa Majeed, who described Romano as like a mother to her students. “We’re following her footsteps.”
Eighty-one seniors are expected to graduate from the program with a state CNA certification in May. Romano also teaches grade-10 and 11 students required courses in the health-science pathway.
Romano was previously awarded regional and state awards by ACTE. According to the school district, she is the first teacher from New York to be honored at the national level in the health and sciences division.
The award comes two years after Fostertown Elementary School teacher Dana McDonough was named 2016 Teacher of the Year by the New York State Department of Education.
By SHANTAL RILEY