The first day of school at Hewlett High School was a great one for business education teacher Ilene Walker as she learned at a faculty meeting that the Business Teachers Association of New York State had named her the winner of the Clinton A. Reed Award.
“I was absolutely shocked and surprised when I heard I won this award,” Walker said. “I never expected to be honored like this and coming after all of these years of being in the profession, it is such an incredible feeling and validation of all the hard work and effort spent each year trying to reach the students and guide them towards fulfilling futures in the business world and beyond.”
The award is given to a person who has made an outstanding contribution for the development and advancement of business and marketing education, by the high school’s business department.
Barbara Mattes, the business department chairperson, nominated Walker based her extensive contributions that include teaching classes, mentoring new hires, adapting to technological advances and implementing the Senior Capstone program, which gives seniors the option of completing a project or doing a 25-hour internship. “Managing the entire senior class is a monumental job,” Mattes said. “She takes extra time to ensure they have the most meaningful experience possible.”
Walker has taught classes such as sports and entertainment marketing, advertising and business ownership at the school for the past 32 years. “Working with my colleagues and friends is extremely gratifying and is a most enjoyable aspect of my job,” she said. “I also enjoy meeting students who truly want to learn more about the subjects we teach as they realize that so many of the professions they might choose to go into are topics that are covered in our courses.”
Senior Julie Korin has had Walker as a teacher for two marketing classes. “I wasn’t surprised she won the award because she’s a great teacher,” Korin said. “She expresses to students exactly what goes on in the real world instead of just reading out of a textbook. We went on a field trip to FAO Schwartz where we were shown marketing techniques.”
Overseeing the Capstone program helps Walker get students think about what they want to do after high school. “Whether I helped students set up internships, or they have found their own, so many of our students are now in fields that they started to learn about while in high school,” she said. “Many have also decided that what they thought they wanted to do, they decided against pursuing. Finding out what you know you don’t want to do is an important lesson to learn before time, money, and many hours go towards an education in a wrong field.”
Mollie Falk, a senior, currently works alongside Walker in the school store and has had her as a teacher for several marketing classes. “She’s a great teacher and she’s taught me a lot about marketing,” Falk said. “Her classes sparked my interest and I’m hoping to go to college for business and marketing and I thank her for that; it’s because of the way she taught that made me interested in the field.”
Walker will receive the award at the Business Teachers Association’s conference in Buffalo on Oct. 4. “It is my hope that this school year continues to be a successful one for our students and that many lessons are learned and enjoyed by all,” she said.
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