Pipe Dream spoke with Rachel Murat, MA ‘01, a teacher at Maine-Endwell Central School District and the recipient of the 2020 New York State Teacher of the Year award. Murat is the founder and president of Maine-Endwell Assisting Local Spartans (M-EALS) and Leadership, a nonprofit district food pantry system that feeds over 100 district families with weekly home deliveries of food. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Pipe Dream: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Rachel Murat: “I am originally from Hamburg, New York, just south of Buffalo, and graduated from Hamburg High School in 1990. I went on to graduate from Ohio University in 1995 with a [B.S. in education] and then a master’s from Binghamton University in 2001. I have very much enjoyed being a teacher at Maine-Endwell High School for the past 25 years. I was the 2020 [New York state] Teacher of the Year and a 2021 [National Education Association] Excellence in Teaching Awardee. Outside of school, I very much enjoy the ocean, sunshine and catching the sunsets.”

PD: What inspired your talk?

RM: “My students and I established what has become the [M-EALS] and Leadership 501c3 food pantry program in 2009. It has evolved into much more since then, but as always, my students are my inspiration.”

PD: Why did you decide to get involved with TEDxBinghamtonUniversity?

RM: “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with both [BU] and TEDx, as they are both institutions that inspire others to become better community members through their various works.”

PD: What do you hope the audience takes away from your talk?

RM: “I hope that my audience will realize that they can make a difference even if they do not have a connection to a wealth of resources or community organizations. Recognizing that childhood hunger exists even in the best of times and that it will take all of us to overcome it is another takeaway that I hope the audience sees.”