An interview with Andrea Deak, our Grand Prize winning teacher

Andrea Deak at one of the new PCs

Andrea Deak at one of the new PCs

As a company that prides itself on our commitment to innovation and exceeding customer expectations, Newegg is delighted to do whatever we can to contribute to better education. Our Nominate Your Teacher award program aims to recognize and reward educators who are a positive influence in the lives of their students, colleagues and the communities they serve. These individuals go above and beyond in their efforts to inspire and motivate students.

Andrea Deak from H.S. 570 Satellite Academy has proven herself to be an invaluable resource for the students at her school, and we are very pleased to be able to provide the school’s new computer lab, which we hope will inspire even more students to excel.

Before we presented her with her prizes, we had the chance to sit down with Andrea to talk about education and her thoughts on winning:

How did you get into teaching?
Andrea Deak: I decided to become a teacher in my senior year of John Bowne High School in New York City. I was taking double the English classes, and for a while thought it would be great to be a Rock & Roll journalist for Rolling Stone Magazine.

In my senior year, the head of the guidance department and my English mentor asked me to tutor Tina, another student in the writing program that had failed the NY State English Regents 4 times. After working with Tina for a few weeks, I felt that if I could figure out how to help her, then maybe I could help other students. So I attended Queens College for undergraduate, and I’m currently attending NYU for my Masters in Education.

Today, I’ve been teaching for 6 years. Considering that over 50% of all new teachers quit in their first 5 years, this is an important milestone for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Have you been at the Satellite Academy long?

AD: I have been with Satellite Midtown for 5 years now, but I’ve been connected with the Satellite Academy program since I started student teaching.

When I finished student teaching at Satellite’s Jamaica Queens location, they were interested in keeping me and hired me as soon as they could. I taught in Queens for a year, and when an opening came about at Satellite in Midtown, I interviewed and was hired there, essentially staying with the school.

Do you have a favorite school memory?
AD: I’m not sure that I have any one particular memory that is my favorite, but graduation is always my favorite day. We work so closely with our students, and we only have them for about two years since we are a transfer/ alternative school. On graduation day I get to see my students—who had worked so hard—get their diplomas and celebrate with their families. Many times the families had almost given up hope to see this day, and to see them all together and seeing how happy they all are is very rewarding.

Newegg's Kevin Lee presenting Andrea with her award

Newegg’s Kevin Lee presenting Andrea with her award

Many times we have students who have overcome enormous obstacles to get to that day, so it truly is a reason to celebrate. I keep the graduation pictures of my students that I’d worked the most closely with on a special bulletin board in my classroom. It’s our wall of fame. All the students who are still in the advisory group (or family group, as we call it) know how hard the others had to work to get to their goal and can be inspired by seeing their friends in their caps and gowns holding their diplomas.

What keeps you going as a teacher?
AD: I’m driven by the knowledge that I’ve been able to help students to have positive experiences with literature. So often I encounter students who pride themselves on having never completed reading a book. I love to change their attitudes toward reading by showing them that there is something out there for everyone. Those small victories keep me going.

Who nominated you?
AD: Mike, my boyfriend of 13 years, nominated me. We were High School sweethearts and he has always been supportive of my career and work. He is the only person who has never questioned my decisions.  He truly understands why I love to do what I do. I think that what he wrote—which made me well up with tears—reinforced his feelings about my career and how much he appreciates the work I do.

Andrea and her boyfriend Mike

Andrea and her boyfriend Mike

(Read Mike’s Entry)

What was your first reaction to winning?
AD: It was very surreal to find out that I had won. Mike called me on his way home from work, because I hadn’t answered his text messages or calls. (I had been at the Museum of Natural History with one of my seniors who had to work on a science independent study during Christmas break.) Mike told me to log on to the website, and as I saw my picture and name, I had to double check that this was the winning announcement and not just the page where he had nominated me!

I was surprised that I’d won. There were so many other hard working and deserving educators nominated. I was just happy to have been considered!

How will your school use the new computer lab?
AD: The school will benefit enormously from this new computer lab. We are going to be replacing the 3rd floor computer lab with this prize. According to our computer guy Joe, the current computers are about 6-8 years old. It simply isn’t a functional space. These were the computers in our 4th floor lab (the 3rd floor lab didn’t exist before this year.)

We honestly thought that we’d have 2 working labs but the 3rd floor one is just slow and has too many issues with the obsolete machines. With 14 classes, and the demand for research capabilities and word processing and editing capabilities, one lab simply doesn’t cut it. Many of our students do not have access to computers in their homes either, so in order for them to develop their computer skills and compete in this world, they need access.

Also, this year, students have been working with Educational Video Center (EVC) creating student documentaries. They need the computers to edit and work on their documentaries. New computers will help those classes, as well.

Students in the new lab

Students in the new lab

We’d like to thank Ms. Deak for taking the time to speak with us.  As the winner of the Newegg “Nominate Your Teacher Award” program, she also received a $2,500 Newegg gift card for her personal use. Five other teachers earned Honorable Mentions in the program, and each will receive a $500 Newegg gift card.

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