Three to Receive Clarkson University Inspirational Educator Award

May 9, 2023

Three educators nominated by Clarkson University students will be honored as the 2023 Clarkson University Inspirational Educators.

Commencement caps and tassles

The award recognizes these educators for their lasting impact on their students and in their fields of education.

Paula Thibault of Schenectady, NY, a math teacher at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons school in Schenectady, NY, was nominated by Abigail Kienzle, a senior from Albany, NY majoring in Civil Engineering at Clarkson.

“Mrs. Thibault is the reason I had the confidence to pursue a degree in engineering, and it has been her constant support that has helped me achieve all I have accomplished in my time at Clarkson,” Kienzle said in nominating Thibault. “As the first in my family to become an engineer, she has been instrumental in helping me navigate the process of becoming an engineer and has been a strong female supporter in a male-dominated profession. I simply would not be where I am today without Mrs. Thibault.”

Catherine Curley of Blauvelt, NY, an English teacher at Albertus Magnus high school in Bardonia, NY, was nominated by Faith Metcalf, a senior from Valley Cottage, NY, majoring in Engineering and Management at Clarkson.

“Mrs. Curley taught me to never give up, even when things seem to always be sour,” Metcalf said in nominating Curley. “She taught me for two years, and while I learned analysis of literature and how to structure an essay, I learned valuable life lessons from Mrs. Curley as well. We still keep in contact today, and every email from her brightens my day.”

Nick Palczak of Boonville, NY, a physics teacher at Adirondack Central High School in Boonville, NY, was nominated by Bailee Underwood, a senior from Taberg, NY, double majoring in Biomolecular Science & Communication, Media, and Design at Clarkson.

“I would not be graduating from Clarkson University today if it weren't for Mr. Palczak’s profound impact on my life,” Underwood said in nominating Palczak. “Mr. Palczak is one of the most inspiring and driven educators I have had the pleasure of learning from, even after taking hundreds of credit hours at a renowned institution such as Clarkson. He is not only committed to making learning enjoyable but also to providing students with opportunities they would not otherwise have.”

Clarkson University is a proven leader in technological education, research, innovation and sustainable economic development. With its main campus in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, Clarkson faculty have a direct impact on more than 7,800 students annually through nationally recognized undergraduate and graduate STEM designated degrees in engineering, business, science and health professions; executive education, industry-relevant credentials and K-12 STEM programs. Alumni earn salaries among the top 2% in the nation: one in five already leads in the c-suite. To learn more go to
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