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September 23, 2022

Dear Parents and Families,

I hope that you’re as excited for the start of school as I am. The Board of Regents and the entire Education Department share this enthusiasm and optimism. We are committed to supporting New York’s teachers and school leaders as they work to help our students learn and grow every day. Please take a moment to watch Chancellor Lester Young’s and my Back to School video message and read our letter to parents and families – it’s our way of welcoming you back to a new school year and letting you know that we believe all of New York’s students can succeed.


This month, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) announced the members of the New York State Graduation Measures Blue Ribbon Commission. Under the direction of the co-chairs, Board of Regents Vice Chancellor Josephine V. Finn and Regent Judith Chin, the 64 members of the Blue Ribbon Commission will undertake a thoughtful and inclusive process to explore what a state diploma should signify to ensure educational excellence and equity for every student in New York State. Commission members represent a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, including educators, administrators, researchers, school counselors, professionals from business and higher education, parents, and students. The full list of Blue Ribbon Commission members is available on NYSED’s website.


Also this month, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 20 schools across New York have been recognized as 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools, including nineteen public and charter schools and one nonpublic school. A full list of the 2022 New York State National Blue Ribbon Schools is available on NYSED’s website. Congratulations to all the honorees!


At the September 2022 Board of Regents meeting, the Board and I honored William "Billy" Green, the 2023 New York State Teacher of the Year. Mr. Green, a high school chemistry teacher at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in Manhattan, has found his true calling in the classroom. He imparts an impassioned love for life-long learning and inspires his students to take charge of their personal and academic responsibilities. Mr. Green embodies the positive impact educators can have on students through innovative practices and authentic engagement, and we are proud to honor him as our Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Mr. Green!


I would also like to congratulate the finalists for the 2023 New York State Teacher of the Year:


  • Zachary Arenz, a music teacher at Flower City School #54, Rochester City School District;
  • Lori Atkinson, a grade 9-12 English teacher at Copenhagen Central School, Copenhagen Central School District;
  • Andi Cammer, a K-6 reading teacher focusing on life skills and workforce development at Jefferson Central School, Jefferson Central School District; and
  • Vanessa Jackson, a health teacher at Plainview Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, Plainview Old Bethpage Central School District.


Finally, as students embark on a new school year, it is vitally important for families to maintain health and mental health insurance coverage. Having health insurance, including access to mental health care, is critical for children to thrive at school and in life. Children with health insurance are more likely to complete high school and graduate college compared with their peers who don’t have access to care. Health coverage for kids benefits everyone.


If a child doesn’t have health insurance, families can apply for coverage through NY State of Health today. Nearly 99 percent of NY State of Health enrollees qualify for free or low-cost insurance that covers important benefits, including doctor visits, immunizations, mental health services, prescriptions, and hospital care. Child Health Plus provides additional dental and vision coverage.


Consumers can enroll in a health plan by:



If a child is already insured through NY State of Health, families should make sure all of their contact information is up to date so NY State of Health can reach them regarding any renewal action they may need to take.


Thank you for all you do to support your children’s education. I wish you the very best for a healthy and happy school year.



Betty A. Rosa


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