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Caitlin Garvey (NY '22)


Clyde-Savannah Elementary School
Clyde, NY

Subject(s) taught: Special Education
Grade(s): K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

At the time of the Award, Caitlin Garvey was:

Clyde-Savannah Elementary School
Clyde, NY

Subject(s) taught: Special Education
Grade(s): K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Biographical Information

Students in Caitlin Garvey’s special education class make great strides in communication and language development. Garvey leads a class with seven students and five paraprofessionals at Clyde-Savannah Elementary School in Clyde, a small town between Rochester and Syracuse in upstate New York. She works with a wide range of needs and unique abilities in the self-contained class, whose curriculum she designed with the help of specialists in speech pathology, assistive technology, autism, and more. Garvey uses small group experiential activities, differentiation and technology to take advantage of students’ existing skills and de-emphasize barriers to learning, finding creative ways to engage each child. Students use crayons to highlight words they know and are still struggling to master, and manipulatives to form compound sentences. Others use speech-generating devices to communicate. Whatever their level, Garvey holds students to their highest academic potential, closing educational gaps and building skills that will impact students for life. Students in her class saw an increase in multiple reading levels. On average most students go from only being able to read a few words, to being able to read several sentences or more at a time.

Garvey, who taught many grade levels before moving to special education, has served as grade level leader and sits on the building leadership team. She contributes to curriculum mapping, development and material selection as part of the district’s instructional leadership team. Garvey is a building leader and mentor in data-based decision-making, including creating assessments, gathering and analyzing data, and using data to adapt instruction for improved student performance. She mentors other teachers and has led professional development on differentiation and student engagement strategies.

Garvey takes a “whole child” approach to teaching and forms genuine bonds with all families. She understands and appreciates students’ and families’ diverse needs, ensuring parents feel valued, respected, heard and informed. Garvey is knowledgeable about and serves as a resource for peers on trauma, poverty and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). When the pandemic closed school buildings, she reached out to families to ensure children had the technology they needed to engage in remote learning—a unique and extremely necessary challenge for her students—and coached parents on how best to support their children’s education.

Garvey earned a bachelor’s in English literature and inclusive childhood and middle childhood education from Nazareth College in 2011 and a master’s in literacy education from SUNY Oneonta in 2021.

Press release: New York Teacher Surprised with Prestigious Milken Educator Award and $25,000

Related Connections

Article: Spotlight: Caitlin Garvey (NY '22)

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Caitlin Garvey In The News

Making a Difference: Caitlin Garvey Wins Milken Prize
Finger Lakes Times  |  Jan 31, 2023  |  Geneva, NY

Wayne County Teacher Surprised with Prestigious $25K Award
New York State United Teachers  |  Nov 17, 2022  |  Latham, NY

Clyde-Savannah Teacher Gets Prestigious Award and $25,000 Prize For Making Impact on Students
WHEC-TV  |  NBC  |  Nov 04, 2022  |  Rochester, NY

Clyde-Savannah Teacher Earns Prestigious Honor
WHAM-TV / WUHF-TV  |  ABC/FOX  |  Nov 04, 2022  |  Rochester, NY

Nazareth Alumna and Special Education Teacher Surprised with Prestigious Milken Educator Award and $25,000
Nazareth College  |  Nov 04, 2022  |  Rochester, NY

Additional Information


2021 M.S., Literacy Education (B-6), SUNY Oneonta

2011 B.A., English Literature, Nazareth College

2011 B.A., Inclusive Childhood/Middle Childhood Education, Nazareth College