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John Walton Spencer School No. 16 Teacher Honored as New York State Middle School Teacher of the Year

(June 21, 2024) The Rochester City School District congratulates Joan Cowles, a John Walton Spencer School No. 16 teacher, for her outstanding achievement as the New York State Middle School Teacher of the Year, awarded by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).  This prestigious award was presented today by retired Rochester Police Department Sergeant Bing Reaves, Sr., a veteran, in recognition of Cowles’ dedicated service to education and her profound impact on students’ lives. 

Selected from a competitive pool of candidates spanning 12 VFW districts in New York State, Cowles was the winner in District 8, which alone encompasses 15 VFW posts.  This award underscores her exceptional dedication and effectiveness as an educator. 

Ms. Cowles has spent her entire 35-year teaching career at School No. 16.  Reaves, Sr., has been encouraging Cowles to apply for the award annually, and this recognition is the culmination of her decades-long commitment to excellence in teaching.

During today’s ceremony at School No. 16, Cowles was presented with a commemorative plaque by Reaves, Sr., along with a monetary donation.  This award is part of the Smart/Maher VFW Citizenship Education Teacher program, through which the VFW annually honors educators who exemplify outstanding dedication and innovation in teaching citizenship education. 

Please join us in congratulating Ms. Cowles on this well-deserved award.