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Cicero-North Syracuse teacher to be honored with 'Outstanding Teacher Award'

Published 04/18-2014

by Sarah Moses of

Syracuse, NY -- A Cicero-North Syracuse teacher will be honored with the Technology Alliance of Central New York's 2014 Outstanding Teacher Award.

Matthew Harbinger is a math and computer science teacher at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in the North Syracuse Central School District.

The Technology Alliance of Central New York is a nonprofit that was founded in 1903 as the Technology Club of Syracuse. Its mission is to facilitate community awareness, appreciation and education of technology.

Harbinger is one of three Onondaga County teachers who will be honored at TACNY's 26th annual Outstanding Teacher Awards Banquet on May 2, at Barbagallo's Restaurant, in East Syracuse. The other winners are Michael Ferris, a business and technology teacher at East Syracuse Minoa High School, and Susanne Bang, a library media specialist at LaFayette Junior-Senior High School. Each teacher will receive a plaque and a check for $1,000.

Current and former students, colleagues, friends and family of the winners, as well as, past winners and the public are invited to honor these teachers at the banquet.

Harbinger believes that learning doesn't have to be boring. He gives away autographed copies of a pixel art portrait drawn by a former student to anyone who gets 100 on a test and holds arm wrestling and board game tournaments to recruit students for computer science classes. When it's time for students to go outside for fire drills, he holds up a light saber and commands his students to gather by shouting: "Nerds, assemble!"

"What I love most about Mr. Harbinger is how he truly embraces being a nerd and his students, who otherwise would not fit into the mold of athlete, drama student, etc., have a place to belong," wrote Rebecca Loy in support of Harbinger's nomination, herself a 2013 TACNY Outstanding Teacher Award winner.

Harbinger earned an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics at State University of New York at Oswego, a master's in adolescent math education from SUNY Oswego and a master's in curriculum and instruction from Peru State University. When he was hired at C-NS, he was encouraged to teach computer programming classes.

"I was reluctant but came to really enjoy the problem-solving nature of the discipline and the fact that the students are very bright and engaged," he said. "I once had a student email me with, 'I know it's Christmas Eve, but check out this app I made...'"

In October 2013, Harbinger was named a New York State Master Teacher by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As a master teacher, Harbinger is responsible for providing enriching professional development opportunities for local teachers.

The Outstanding Teacher Awards Banquet begins at 6 p.m. May 2, with the meal starting at 7 p.m. A ceremony honoring the teachers will follow. Tickets are $12 for students and $24 for adults, and can be purchased online. The deadline to make a reservation is Thursday.

For more information about the banquet, contact Joe Pesce at or call 569-6702.

Sarah Moses covers the northern suburbs of Onondaga County and Oswego County. Contact Sarah at or 470-2298. Follow @SarahMoses315


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