Niskayuna Community Foundation Surprises NHS Teachers Victor Alcantara and Annemarie Ihnatolya with 2021 Murray Award

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Award Recognizes Teaching Excellence of Niskayuna Educators

The Niskayuna Community Foundation, surprised two Niskayuna High School teachers with the 18th annual Murray Award for Excellence in Education. The awards were presented to Annmarie Ihnatolya, a member of the English Department and Victor Alcantara, a World Language teacher. Each awardee receives an engraved plaque and $2,500 for their professional development.

This annual award was created in 2004 by Kathy Murray Crowe and Jeanne Murray Veasey, whose parents, Edwards and Sally Murray were involved in the formation of the Niskayuna High School. They believed that providing the finest education required hiring the most creative, driven, and inspirational teachers. The award is also given in memory of Jeanne Murray Veasey, who has since passed away.

A committee representing students, parents and peers chose the recipients and the Niskayuna Community Foundation facilitated the selection process and award presentation. Criteria included outstanding classroom practices as well as growth potential and a school presence that inspires and positively impacts students, colleagues and the community. This year’s discussions also focused on how teachers have gone above and beyond to care for their students during COVID-19 and hybrid learning.

At the request of the Murray family, this award is not competitive, but is intended to be an annual opportunity to select educators who represent the overall excellence of the high school staff and educational program.

Annmarie Ihnatolya is an English teacher who creates a calm environment in which students feel comfortable participating. Mrs. Ihnatolya is responsive to the needs of her students, working tirelessly to bring the best she can to all levels of students, helping each student find success and feel empowered. Throughout the pandemic Mrs. Ihnatolya created relevant projects and activities that made the connection with literature as well as modern day problems the students may face. She is a quiet and respected leader.

Victor Alcantara is a Foreign Language teacher who finds a way to connect with every student. Throughout the Pandemic Mr. Alcantara found creative ways to keep students engaged, whether through singing songs in class or through creative games focused on Culture. Mr. Alcantara sees students for who they are and appreciates them and helps them be the person they want to be. He is constantly improving his craft to help students achieve all that they can. Outside of class Mr. Alcantara runs several clubs. He is a resource and can be counted on to help anyone in the building.

ABOUT THE NISKAYUNA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION Founded in December, 1999, NCF’s mission is to inspire generosity, encourage equity, and invest in local solutions by serving the Niskayuna Community through grantmaking, awarding of scholarships and supporting collaboration. Since the year 2000, NCF has awarded nearly $400,000 in grants to more than 100 different organizations; supporting children in crisis, senior safety, innovative education, town-wide entertainment, and other programs that enrich lives and meet critical needs. NCF has also provided $90,000 in teacher awards and more than $79,000 in student scholarships. As an affiliate of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region (CFGCR), NCF enjoys the independence of its own volunteer Board of Directors and endowed and operating funds, while at the same time utilizes CFGCR’s administrative and investment expertise. For more information about the Niskayuna Community Foundation, visit our website at, call (518) 446-9638 or write to NCF, 2 Tower Place, Albany, NY 12203.