A Teacher’s Teacher
BY JANICE LLANES FABRY
During a most unpredictable and challenging school year, Rye City Schools bestowed the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year award on Kristie Orlando-Bangali, the Middle and High School’s Instructional Technology Staff Developer.
“When I heard the news, I was floored. I could think of so many other teachers that are so deserving,” shared Orlando. “That my peers took time out of their crazy, busy schedules to write letters and support me was really touching.”
The fact that Orlando was selected by her fellow teachers brings being “judged by a jury of one’s peers” to a whole other level. As it happens, Orlando-Bangali teaches teachers. She is responsible for helping classroom teachers navigate the uncharted technology territory that emerged as a result of hybrid and remote learning.
“Teaching is a craft that you are constantly growing, and I love learning new engaging and innovative methods,” noted Orlando-Bangali, who loves the challenge.
“Kristie’s teaching has enabled teachers to leave their technology comfort zone. Many were better prepared for the transition to remote learning because of her training workshops,” noted Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne. “She has gone above and beyond in her role within the District.”
Orlando-Bangali delivers remote learning professional development workshops every week, conducts one-on–one sessions, and creates newsletters. Faculty members are awed by the “breadth and depth of her knowledge,” “her creative ideas,” and “lengthy résumé of skills.”
From her perspective, she admitted, “When I coach teachers about new strategies and share small things that have a significant impact, I am so pleased to see the excitement and joy on their faces.”
Orlando-Bangali, who grew up in Pleasantville, pursued teaching after being inspired by a Spanish teacher she had at Byram Hills. Coincidentally, that very teacher, Cindy Weichert, was teaching at Rye Middle School when she joined the District twelve years ago as a World Languages teacher. As a result, Kristie had the pleasure of working alongside her for a time. After teaching Spanish at the Middle School for nine years, she moved to her current position.
The IT specialist’s bottomless bag of tricks has empowered teachers to embrace a vast repertoire of applications, from Zoom and Screencastify to FlipGrid and Padlet. As one colleague put it, “Kristie has given confidence and peace of mind to students, teachers, and administrators going through a world-altering time.”
The Rye School District is her home now. She said, “I cannot see myself working anywhere else or with a more talented group of educators.”
Kristie Orlando-Bangalj, the Rye City School District 2020-21 Teacher of the Year