Distinguished Teacher Program

About the Distinguished Teacher Program

Rationale & Objectives

Many people remember with fondness a terrific teacher from high school or junior high who had a huge impact on their lives and futures. To honor such teachers, the Harvard Club of Long Island asks current undergraduates from Long Island to nominate as “HCLI Distinguished Teachers” their own unsung heroes, the educators who helped them succeed by expending uncounted hours and vast stores of energy first to raise their aspirations and then to help them accomplish dreams. The program was begun in 2005 with the following rationale:

  1. Our best teachers deserve more recognition than they get
  2. Harvard Club support of local teachers represents significant recognition
  3. Providing scholarships for teachers to attend a short program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education will honor and benefit teachers
  4. What our teachers learn at HGSE will also benefit their students, their colleagues, and our schools
We have two objectives for our Distinguished Teacher Program:
  1. To support education within our Long Island community
  2. To focus attention on excellent 7th-to-12th Grade Teachers
    1. All those who are nominated as well as those who win awards and scholarships
    2. Teachers in districts which struggle to encourage students to prepare for college as well as teachers in affluent, highly competitive districts

How It Works

About a hundred Long Island teachers are nominated each year — and each receives an individual letter, with a copy to his or her Superintendent of Schools. Of these teachers, an HCLI committee culls a dozen or so to honor with “Distinguished Teacher Awards” at an awards ceremony held in conjunction with our annual University Relations Brunch where a pre-eminent Harvard Professor addresses the group.

Of the award-winning teachers, a select few are also named Harvard Club of Long Island Fellows and receive our Distinguished Teacher Scholarship to attend a Harvard Graduate School of Education program in Cambridge. The scholarships cover tuition, materials and room and board. The scholarships are funded by contributions from members of the Harvard Club of Long Island.

The program has 3 levels of honor:
  1. Named (recognized) as “HCLI Distinguished Teacher”--these are teachers nominated by a current Harvard undergraduate looking back to his/her 7th-12th Long Island teachers — about 100 teachers are nominated each year
  2. Honored with “HCLI Distinguished Teacher Award” --about a dozen teachers are selected by an HCLI committee from among those nominated; awards are announced in early February and are presented at the “University Relations Lunch” (March or April) where an eminent Harvard professor offers a classic lecture
  3. Awarded “HCLI Distinguished Teacher Scholarship” & Named “HCLI Fellow” --Of those teachers invited to the spring awards ceremony, one or more (depending on funds) are awarded $1,000 scholarships to a Harvard Graduate School of Education short program; scholarships are announced at the HCLI annual “University Relations Lunch” in March or April.

Who Gets Selected

We believe the Harvard “brand” indicates a gold standard of achievement — and while we believe that the Harvard name may bring a little glamour to our Distinguished Teachers, we also believe that many Long Islanders may be surprised by the diversity of districts represented by our Distinguished Teachers: our winners, a cross-section of the nominees, teach both at schools which traditionally serve as “feeder” schools (having one or more applicants accepted every year) and at “occasional” schools (having one or two accepted every five to ten years). They teach in Nassau and Suffolk Counties; in the north, south, and central parts of the island; 7th through 12th grades; math, science, English, foreign languages, history, music, and a range of extra-curricular activities. One award winner was teaching students in the Nassau County jail the year a Harvard undergrad nominated him. Some of these teachers were the subjects of college application essays because they are the reason some students strove to apply to any college — and got in. Our honorees prove that superb teachers work their hearts out across Long Island: no region, no district, no school has a monopoly.

Over the past twenty years, Harvard has accepted students from more than two-thirds of the approximately 120 school districts on Long Island and, even in the past five years, it has acceptedstudents from more than half the districts — partly as a function of Harvard’s progressive financial aidpolicies, which focus on increasing the economic diversity of its student body. Because of this reach, we ask current Harvard undergraduates to nominate the Long Island teachers who had the greatest effect on their lives and the lives of their fellow students from 7th to 12th grade.

Teachers named HCLI Fellows & awarded Distinguished Teacher Scholarships:

March 2009

Dr. Jeff Greenberger, Riverhead HS — Latin & Ancient Greek — “ “Doc is, quite simply, the best teacher I have ever had. Having done his graduate studies at Cambridge University, he could have gone on to any number of things, and yet he chose to bring Latin and Ancient Greek to a public high school. His unique way of making these languages exciting and enticing has resulted in a rapid growth of the Classics program at RHS, and I really cannot thank him enough. Without Doc, my Harvard experience would not have been the same.”

Richard Kurtz, Commack HS — Science Research — “Mr. Kurtz was, undoubtedly, my favorite teacher. His influence has been felt by thousands of students. His sincere concern for his students’ well-being — both inside and outside of the classroom — was evident to all. Mr. Kurtz taught but, more importantly, he inspired. For so many years Mr. Kurtz has carried himself in a humble and selfless manner, helping his students earn awards and honor. It is time for him to be honored — for his love of teaching — and of learning.”

Susan Babkes, Great Neck North HS — History — “With verve and power Ms. Babkes has engages her students with the immediate importance of history — to question not simply "what" happened, but "how" and most importantly "why." Always willing to help us with raw and refreshing honesty and care, Ms. Babkes possesses an ability to ignite in her students a profound wonder and respect for the people in the pages of our history books — and equal wonder and respect for the individuals sitting at the desks next to us.”

April 2008

Carla Gentile Mancuso, Lynbrook HS — English — “With her intellectual curiosity, kindheartedness, and unparalleled generosity, Ms. Gentile is simply the best teacher I have ever had. In her class, I received a model for my college education, as I learned to push myself to ask difficult and complicated questions. Most afternoons, she stays after school for two hours or more, providing extra help to struggling students, allowing slower writers to take a bit more time to articulate their thoughts for in-class essays, and conversing with students who just need to talk with someone about personal issues.”

Ross Lipsky, Valley Stream South — Math — “After earning a degree in math and physics from Brown, he stuck to a childhood commitment — to fix the world at the ground level. He devotes so many thousands of hours outside of class to helping students that he makes Jaime Escalante from Stand and Deliver seem stingy with his time. Before the Calculus AP, Mr. Lipsky offers all his students a full Saturday review, paying for breakfast and lunch, drawing near-perfect attendance. This year, at the BC Calculus dinner he hosts and funds for all students who earned fives, about half the class attended. Such numbers are routine.”

April 2007

Dr. George Baldo, Ward Melville HS — Science Research — “Dr. Baldo taught me to view the world in a new way, that is, to view the world through an analytical and critical lens. Everything happens for a reason, whether it's a chemical reaction or a stock market crash. Being a successful researcher is to discover why things happen. Everyday at Harvard, I use the analytical, critical mindset acquired in Dr. Baldo's class. I'm sure thismindset will be valuable in the future as well, whether I work in academia, in business, or in the industry.”

James Egbert, West Babylon HS — English — “Mr. Egbert is the kind of teacher students still come visit years later. He teaches English — and Life. I know I owe much to manyteachers in West Babylon — we really do have some gems — but Mr. Egbert, is distinguished by having such a positive influence on so many students. He seduces themaway from videogames into becoming voracious readers of challenging texts. He changes lives. For these others, as well as for his encouraging feedback and belief in me, I know.”

Evelina Zarkh, Schreiber High School — English — “An inspirational teacher… she not only helped me strengthen my analytical writing but she also helped me find a unique, effective voice as a writer. Her AP writing workshop class was the most valuable class of my high school experience … I admire her genuine concern for bettering herself as a teacher. She continually evaluates her effectiveness and looks for ways to more fully engage her students.”

April 2006

Beth Gilbert, West Babylon HS — English — givies students “the first taste of what I hoped many classes would be like in college,” assigning a lot of work, but “getting papers back to students the next day” and making “every class a discussion, fantastic, stimulating, and wonderful.”

Kevin Meyers, Wheatley HS, Old Westbury — Mathematics — one student said he’s “one of the most extraordinary people I have met in my life, … both an expert in the field of mathematics and having an ability to teach even the most difficult concepts with ease, great passion, and enthusiasm.” A second student said “he was the only teacher I’ve had who challenged me to do more than what was in the curriculum.” Both also commented on the hours he spent coaching sports and other extracurriculars.

Ric Stark, Hewlett HS in Woodmere — Chemistry, Physics, Science —“vastly important to my scientific education, my love of chemistry began with the clear and deep lessons he gave while writing ferociously on the blackboard, telling quick-witted jokes tointerest us in chemistry, and even standing on the desk or drawing on ceiling tiles to make clearer to us some concept like the 3D structure of a molecule… And to this day, even after taking 7 chemistry classes at Harvard, I still use his notes for references.”

Robert Stirrat, Freeport HS — English — has incredibly effect on the lives of his students, a veteran English teacher who teaches students of all abilities with the same incredible energy and passion through thick and thin. This is the teacher who had me convinced I would be an English major in college.

March 2005

Barbara Carstens, Northport HS — Mathematics — “truly an amazing person and a great teacher. Math has always caused me anxiety, stress, and great difficulty. In 10th grade I failed a few tests and was completely distraught.... Almost every single day ... [she went] over tests, homework, and the daily lessons…because of her endless encouragement and patience, and ended up getting a 5 on the AP Calculus exam.”

Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, Manhasset Middle School & HS — HS English & MS Gifted & Talented — nominated by 3 students: one saying he’s “a master of English literature, a sage on life's experiences, with a stubborn commitment to urging all his students to make the best of themselves.” Another: “He opens our eyes and changes how we see the world — from distinct experiences to a vast classroom. He changes the lives around him. He lights up the classroom and his teaching gives students the confidence to try anything — he made me (and so many others) come ‘alive’ intellectually.”

Teachers honored with Distinguished Teacher Awards:

March 2009

Renee Barcia, Herricks HS — Science Research — “… science research … endless hours of slave labor … Why did she have to pull me out of class to criticize me for lack of heart, my "potential," and yadda yadda. Slowly I began making connections. The awards I won were very, very shiny but nothing compared to how I grew as a person. I still don't think I've fully realized how she changed my life.”

Dr. David Dorman, Manhasset HS — History — “To be successful with Dr. Dorman’s whole new level of academic expectations, students have to significantly overhaul the way they read, wrote and prepared for exams. Dr. Dorman often referred to this as ‘learning how to learn.’ Dr. Dorman taught me how to be a critical thinker, and led me to develop study skills and work habits that continue to serve me well into my first year of college.”

Maurice Hayon, Baldwin HS — Physics — “Mr. Hayon brought a mature vivacity and dedication to teaching, despite being one of the coolest teachers in the school. As a non-science major, I appreciate the important work that he did — helping me understand the basic principles by which the physical universe is governed. I can now see the profound, positive effects he has upon his students in their enthusiastic questioning and participation.”

Melissa Kennedy, West Islip HS — Math — “Aside from being THE nicest person I've ever met, Mrs. Kennedy is an incredible teacher. In my senior year of high school, I really wanted to take Calculus BC, a course not taught in my school. She said "Okay!" and met me 3 days a week before school at 6:30 — for the entire year. I learned so much in that class, and I'll never forget my early groggy mornings in Calculus. If I could go back, I would in a heartbeat!”

Jean Linzee, Stony Brook School — English — “Jean Linzee is the most talented, brilliant and eccentric teacher I have ever had (including three semesters of Harvard). In addition introducing me to the concepts of parallelism and the finer points of punctuation, Mrs. Linzee taught me not just to know characters, but to understand them; not just to write, but to create.”

Stephen Pagano, Freeport HS — Chorus — “Mr. Pagano has been a musical force in the Freeport community since the 1970s. Pagano devotes hours of individual vocal preparation toward each student preparing for the NYSSMA evaluations that determine honors. Mr. Pagano's work with the choruses has shown that a musical education can be a formative element of one's higher education: Freeport's three most recent Harvard attendees have all sung in Harvard's choral ensembles. For others, Pagano's tutelage and vocal development have nurtured the seeds for careers in opera, contemporary musical genres, and musical theater. I have classmates going to Broadway and those who are starting to make their names in Hollywood: beyond our common origin in Freeport, we have a shared connection in Mr. Pagano's teaching and mentorship.”

Susan Yansick, Bethpage HS — English — “The way we examined and discussed complex transcendentalist material all year actually changed my life. It gave me a perspective I had never realized existed. She taught me how to structure an argument and defend it in writing and speech. She pushed her students hard, with a rigorous assignment schedule, but she made sure she was available to help each student improve. It was still, to this day, the best class I have ever taken — challenging, fascinating, and rewarding.”

April 2008

Alice Bowman, Floral Park Memorial HS —English— “Mrs. Bowman taught me to honor personal character over test grades. It was her encouragement that kept me an honest student when others were compromising their own integrity. The lessons she taught me in 9th and 10th grade about writing and the analysis of literature have carried me to where I am today. Though other Harvard students came from expensive prep schools where they learned Latin and Greek, I felt equally prepared for the challenges of the Expository Writing program because of Mrs. Bowman.”

Jeffrey Gilden, Great Neck North HS — English & Drama — “Mr. Gilden has inspired me, above all else, to take risks. Whether it was in an essay for "The Merchant of Venice," trying out for a lead role in musicals, or just speaking in front of the class, Mr. Gilden encouraged me to leave my comfort zone and attempt to do something — amazing, emboldening, exciting. Most important, he taught me how to be a citizen of humanity, to give back to the world around me, to stay true to myself, and to respect others.”

James Graber, Huntington HS — History, Economics — “an incredibly effective teacher and a levelheaded mentor. Despite the conceptual difficulty of AP Microeconomics, Mr. Graber piqued our interest with clear and colorful class discussions every day. Beyond class time, he demonstrated utter dedication through endless hours of extra help and advising. As a science concentrator, I am still in awe about how he has given me a broader perspective with which to view the world — and for this, I am extremely grateful.”

James Hughes, Farmingdale HS — History — “Not only did Mr. Hughes teach us History, but he also taught us to be comfortable with ourselves. As a blind teacher, Mr. Hughes often told us how others had informed him that teaching in a “regular” school was simply unrealistic, yet he fought against all odds in order to teach in a public school. To this day, Mr. Hughes’ ability to overcome challenges inspires me to believe that I can overcome any obstacles. I have yet to meet a teacher so dedicated to changing each and every student’s life in such a positive way.”

Vincent Kreyling, Roslyn HS — Biology & Nat Sci research — “Mr. Kreyling’s enthusiasm for biology is no doubt a major factor in my desire to pursue biology at Harvard. Mr. Kreyling was dedicated to making sure we did as well as we could; and he expected us to meet him halfway. His lectures were jammed not only with information but also with his distinctive sense of humor that helped to equip a bunch of nervous sophomores with the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to face the dreaded AP.”

John Murphy, South Side HS — English & IB Theory of Knowledge — “Mr Murphy changed the way I view and live my life as a whole. Mr. Murphy — who believes in learning for the sake of learning, not for memorization or for a test grade — was unfailingly reassuring. I wanted to pursue higher-level music. Mr. Murphy told me to study what interested me most, not what other applicants were interested in. His advice served as my academic moral compass in high school and in the I.B. program, and continues to guide my academic pursuits today.”

Dr. Carol Smyth, North Shore HS — Science Research — “Although she has the ability to present complicated physics principals with impeccable clarity and ease, she is also a wonderful research advisor. Not only did Dr. Smyth support her students’ academic endeavors, she also supported our extracurricular activities. She was the only non-music teacher to attend our music club’s annual Coffee House. Her love for teaching, dedication to her students and impeccable advising are truly an inspiration.”

Rick Wilson, The Wheatley School & Machon HaTorah — English — “No other teacher has done so much to enrich my life, both intellectually and personally. Far more thorough and personal than the typical comments in the margins, his critiques nourished a passion for writing. But Mr. Wilson was also demanding. I was a quiet girl who avoided all arguments, and I will never forget the day Mr. Wilson challenged the idea of the “innocent” bystander. For me, it was the beginning of a personal quest to learn to stand up for others. For my classmates, it was an experience of empathy for the outsider.”

April 2007

Athena Born, West Islip HS — Spanish — “The week before the AP exam, during our spring break, we rotated between going to her house and her coming to West Islip so that we would work with her. She made time for everyone individually, wanting each of us to do the best we could. … She made it her mission — literally— that we use the language and learn about the culture. She instilled in all of us a true love for Spanish. She is a great teacher.”

Dennis Feeney, Huntington Middle School — English (retired) — “Mr. Feeney loves teaching English and loves his students. In hindsight, his emphasis on writing honed my skills a writer — and has proved critical to my success in college. Although Mr. Feeney was a ‘harsh grader,’ his criticism was both ‘useful’ and ‘constructive,’ and helped me learn to write succinctly yet still in a manner that could encompass the breadth of my argument and thought.”

Mary Fallica, Baldwin HS — History/Social Studies — “a profound influence on the course of my life, deepening my appreciation for public service and the work of committed teachers like her. … My barometer for a truly great teacher is one who makes me want to work hard, to excel, and to push myself beyond merely doing what’s asked — to achieve actual, intellectual satisfaction.”

Doris Quintillian, Huntington HS — Math — “Mrs. Quintilian is not only my teacher, but a true guide and friend, and I aspire to becoming as wonderful as she is in shepherding others…Teaching calculus is a formidable task, especially when students arrive with preconceived fears about a subject that carries an almost innate stigma. Mrs. Quintilian, however, has the skill to simplify hard concepts and make sure that each of her students understand them. She is extremely intelligent, warm, and patient — and empathizes with students who must trudge through calculus.”

Carlo Rebolini , Garden City HS — English — “one of the greatest people I have ever come across, and I cannot thank him enough. His class was a joy to attend every single day. I learned so much from him — not only about literature and writing — but more importantly about life. I would not be at Harvard without him.”

David Trachtenberg, Northport HS — History— “Mr. T inspired us all to overcome the adversities that come our way. Because he is a cancer survivor, I was amazed to see that his outlook on life was so positive. His was the first class in which I pushed myself to go above and beyond the requirements. I was exposed to so much more than what can be found in history books. In fact, I owe my ability to really look beyond the bias of sources, and to formulate my own opinions to Mr. Trachtenberg.”

Robert Washburn, Miller Place HS — Calculus — “one of the most dedicated teachers I have ever had. He genuinely cares not only about students’ grasp of the material —but he cares also about their personal well-being. He rarely lost patience and never seemed bothered by having to explain difficult ideas to those having trouble — and to explain related concepts to those of us who simply loved the subject and wanted to learn more.”

Chris Whalley, North Shore HS — Latin — nominated by two students: one said, “He is amazing — brilliant, fun, engaging. I enjoyed his classes above all others” A second says, “his passion for the Classical world and his love for the Latin language inspired me to pursue a degree in Classics. The commentaries he devised are carted along to Cambridge with me every Fall —without fail. Mr. Whalley's breadth of knowledge, his commitment to teaching, his patience, his eloquence, his sense of humor, and his dedication to culturing an appreciation of the ancient world in his students are unparalleled.”

Stephen Wisnoski, Westhampton Beach HS — History — “He conducts class quite like a college seminar, really preparing us for an academic future. He taught us how to read analytically and critically, how to discuss the material in class, how to write about it in an essay — skills critical for classes I’ve taken since. In reflecting on my experiences in Mr Wisnoski’s AP European History class — five years ago (wow!) — I now know he is one of the best teachers I had in high school. — I don’t know what would have happened to me had I not taken his class.”

April 2006

Alan Baum, nominated for Commack High School, now at Ward Melville in Setauket — American History & Government —“Once, when I received one of my worst marks in high school from him, he made me realize that if I pushed myself, I could move from a mediocre medium to something to be proud of… and one of the most inquisitive teachers I had in high school.… I’ve only just begun to realize the incredibly effect he still has on my life.”

Richard Buckley, Lawrence — Chorus — The words, "caring," "driven," and "passionate" would all be tremendous understatements. His ability to motivate and inspire is motivating and inspiring in itself. Mr. Buckley is a role model both for students and for teachers.

Rori Finazzo, East Hampton — English & Composition — “brilliant, inspiring, and motivating, enthusiastic and caring. She made the material she taught so exciting and interesting to learn because she was unfailingly good at motivating students during all of the discussions she has inside and outside of class.”

Timothy Madden, Great Neck South — American History — “shows exceptional trust and faith in his students, and truly passionate about American history and why it is so important to study. He challenged me, more than any other teacher to think critically about historical writing and research.”

Chrysi Notkas, Half Hollow Hills East — Research Advisor — one student: “supporting me to reach beyond what I thought possible,” Another: the personification of dedication, enthusiasm, and strength. As I came to know her better, she became a role model and a figure of inspiration, lending encouragement and unconditional support.

Patricia Ponzi , Bay Shore HS — History — taught the very first AP class for sophomore students in my high school, got us successfully through the exam, and made the whole process fun and engaging. Further, she emphasized college preparation, like proper notetaking and time management, helping many students with their college resumes and applications.”

Richard Roberts, Center Moriches — History — “Despite my high school peers’ placing little value on scholarship and academic success, Mr. Roberts has a passion for academia that shines through in his classroom. He demonstrated that it is not only OK, but truly wonderful to pursue scholarship and intellectual endeavors.”

Alan Schorn, Great Neck North — Science Research— “My most influential high school teacher, he has inspired and fueled my passion for research and science. He has so much compassion for students. I attribute much of my success and growth as a student and as a human being to Mr. Schorn.”

Yvonne Sherwood, Sewanhaka HS in Floral Park — Earth Science — She brings lifeless rocks and minerals to life, engaging all our senses in earth science. She challenges students of different levels, and personally ensures that everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — understands the teaching even if it means hours of extra review time after school (with refreshments).

Nancy Sybil , West Islip HS — Math — “I had her two years running and I wish I could have stayed for more. She created a learning environment that was a lot of fun but we got done what needed to be done. She was willing to stay after school every day for extra help, helped children on home instruction going into their homes, and always found time to watch her students’ sporting events.”

Anne-Marie Taormina , Baldwin Sr. HS — AP Literature — “a truly special educator … in my high school career, only one teacher has had such a singular impact in the classroom…. at once, charmingly engaging and intellectually stimulating — only her presence was required to keep the class focused on and engrossed by literature that many of us would have never appreciated without her guidance.”

Stephen Wolfson, Syosset HS — Biology — “He pushed us to be the best students we possibly could, and drove us to find out who we were as students and as growing adolescents…. Not only did he teach, and teach well, but he built character. I have yet to encounter another teacher so dedicated to his work and to his students”

March 2005

Robert Alu, Nassau County juvenile incarceration education program (supervised by East Meadow HS) —East Meadow — Social Studies — “so greatly influencing my high school experience and those of his other students. He was always willing to spend time with students, and was incredibly encouraging about both our academic and extracurricular pursuits. He pushed us all to work at the highest level we had ever worked before, and was the proudest of anyone when we were successful.”

Lucille Blom, William T. Rogers Middle School —King's Park (retired) — Math — “THE definition of devoted. Plus, she … made math a joy to learn! It's a measure of how much she loved us that she couldn't sleep the night of the Regents, and cried with us on the last day of school - and she managed to get 14 of us to get 100s on our Regents exam!”

Dr. Dennis Claire, Greenport HS (deceased) — English — “It is difficult to describe how wonderful a teacher he was, inspiring his students year-round. I have met no one else with the passion he had for literature but, particularly, for teaching and instilling in his students a feeling of possibility and insight… He is one of the people who, beyond teaching, showed me personally what passion is all about”

Ann Gordon, Islip HS — English — having a gift for the craft of teaching, and putting in insane extra effort ... staying after school to meet with students ... chatting with kids at sporting events... entertaining questions from those ringing her doorbell during dinner. There is not another teacher in the building who is more committed and more effective at imparting writing skills and life skills to adolescents ... she is busy saving kids that everyone else has given up on.”

Bruce Kahn, Smithtown HS — Math — “known for his deep knowledge, his incredible teaching ability and his devotion to the school and its students. His lucid explanations allow students who enter his class seeing calculus as a set of baffling procedures usually leave with a thorough conceptual understanding of the subject. He makes esoteric concepts easy to understand through memorable demonstrations and analogies, his natural talent for speaking, his sense of humor. He is a beloved coach and an invaluable source of advice (and recommendations).”

Arthur Kalish, Syosset HS — Math — “He was the first person to teach me that math is not only interesting and useful, but, in its own wonderful way, one of the most beautiful and rewarding intellectual disciplines we have.”

Jonathan Klomp, Plainedge HS, Massapequa — Social Studies — “He is a down-to-earth guy whom I can talk to about anything, not just school. He even helped me find an engineering internship . . . . I still meet with him during vacations to have lunch and catch up. He’s dedicated and inspiring.”

Dr. Anthony Pontone, Gt. Neck North & South HS — Latin & Greek — “He breathes life into authors and languages that have been dead for thousands of years, and truly inspires his students, instilling in them a love and passion for history and ancient literature that will far outlast our memory of how to speak the language. He is the model for what a high school teacher should be.”

Diane Sordelline, West Hempstead HS —Social Studies — Her ability to effectively promote understanding of such a demanding subject matter is unmatched. Using humor, engaging lessons, and a demanding workload, Mrs. Sordelline successfully guides sophomores through their first AP class.”

Robert Spira, Ward Melville HS, Three Villages of Brookhaven & Smithtown (E. Setauket) — Physics — “Makes physics the most exciting class in high school. With an impressive, even infectious, enthusiasm, Mr. Spira took great pains to make sure his lessons were both challenging and fun, and to set a standard for rigor in the classroom that could be a model for teachers everywhere. What really sets him apart is his realization that teaching is about more than physics. He is a fine example of character: he didn't try to teach it; rather, he just has it.”

For more information or to make a contribution, please contact the Distinguished Teachers Chair.