NMS yearbook dedicated to science teacher
When Newark Middle School seventh and eighth grade science teacher Spencer Byrne learned the 2021 yearbook was dedicated to him, the virtual announcement was different than in previous years before COVID restrictions.
Before the 2019-20 school year, NMS staff members would be surprised with the announcement at a mid-June morning assembly in the auditorium, where excited students and staff would jump to their feet and give the honored recipient a standing ovation.
Byrne, of Penfield, said the announcement over the school’s public address system at the end of the school day was just as meaningful under the circumstances and something he won’t forget.
Eighth graders Jessica Brown, Jeff Hernandez, Leeann Titus and Dominick Wheaton shared their reasons for why he was worthy of the honor. Hernandez said Byrne was the “highest quality teacher, mentor, friend anyone could ask for.”
“His students know when they walk into his classroom that they are in the company of a caring, knowledgeable, highly respected teacher,” he added. “Mr. Byrne is also a very kind and amazing person to every single person in this building. He makes us want to come back to class every single day and never miss a class.”
Yearbook adviser and editor Mandy Armstrong, secretary to Principal Teresa Prinzi, surveyed eighth graders at the beginning of the school year, asking them who the yearbook should be dedicated to. Byrne received the highest number of votes.
“The entire eighth grade was given a survey to select who to dedicate the yearbook to, why they felt the nominee deserved the honor, what their favorite memory is with their nominee and what PRIDE recognition they would give to their nominee and why,” Armstrong said. “The feedback from the eighth grade class was overwhelming. They not only had incredibly kind things to say about Mr. Byrne, but they also had kind things to say about many of the teachers at the Middle School.”
“I was surprised,” Byrne said. “It was truly an honor. Even though it’s been a tough and really challenging year for all of us, the yearbook dedication made me realize I really am making a difference.”
During the prerecorded virtual announcement, the four students who spoke about Byrne appeared at his classroom door with a copy of the yearbook. Byrne’s students in his last period class stood up and applauded him. He said he could hear other classes cheering during the announcement throughout the hallway.
Byrne just completed his fourth year of teaching at NMS. He received his Bachelor of Science in biology education from SUNY Cortland and a master’s degree in biology science from the College at Brockport. Before coming to the Newark Central School District, he taught science for grades 7-9 and environmental science for grades 11-12 in the Franklin Central School District.
At the end of the announcement, Prinzi gave a “huge shout-out to Mr. Byrne” on behalf of the school and congratulated him on being the honoree.