The study and award weighed assessments of the performance of those from low-income households. In the Warrensburg School District, 37 percent of students are from low-income households.
VanDusen said she and other WCS teachers are committed to teaching with the assumption that all students want to learn and achieve as much as they can despite their background.
"You have to tap into what is relevant to them in their lives and their background, and when you make that connection, they really learn with enthusiasm," she said.
Down the hall a ways, Math Teacher Art Hull was explaining the mathematic relationship between angles and sectors of a circle.
"The angles formed by a tangent and a chord is half the intersected arc, so angle AEH is what?" he asked his geometry students. "Everything depends on these arcs being correct, so don't screw up."
The arms of a half dozen students shot up in the air to offer the answer.
Minutes later, out in the hallway, his 10th grade students talked about why they enjoy Hull's class, and how he made complex problems so understandable.
"He explains the concepts really well, and he knows his stuff," Austin DeMarsh said.
"Mr. Hull really explains it well and if you don't 'get it,' he'll take an hour or more to help you figure it out," Jennifer Ehle said, noting Hull had a reputation of being patient but grading tough.
2008 Warrensburg graduate Emma Prendeville, a freshman at Skidmore college, said Friday in a phone interview that Hull's teaching techniques were very effective.
"When I got to college, I discovered that Mr. Hull got me exponentially more prepared than any other students at Skidmore," she said.
WCS graduate Ben Infantino, a doctor in his final year of residency at Albany Medical Center, also had Hull while in high school, but during the early 1990s.