Two Syosset teachers are among 14 from across Long Island to receive a Distinguished Teacher of 2015 award from the Harvard Club of Long Island.
Linda Stollow of South Woods Middle School and Brian Belanger of Syosset High School were named to the prestigious honor by Dr. Judith Esterquest, Harvard Club of Long Island Chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee.
“Our awards honor teachers who transform lives,” said Esterquest. “Dedicated teachers like Mrs. Stollow offer Long Island students deep expertise, extraordinary talents, and countless hours of devotion. By capturing the minds and imaginations of our children, preparing them for challenges that were unknown even a few decades ago—academic, social, political, cultural—these teachers shape our country’s future.”
Winners of this award are from across the 150 public school districts and private schools on Long Island—Stollow and Belanger will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon on April 26.
Stollow has taught physical science at South Woods Middle School for 18 years, as well as summer school for a science research program for elementary students for the past 14 years. Stollow has coached three teams each year since 2000 for Science Olympiad. This year, her three teams in regionals won second, seventh and eighth place out of 42 teams. She is also a science fair coach and teaches a Methods of Science course for undergraduate students at Five Towns College in Dix Hills.
Before coming to the Syosset School District, Stollow worked at Saint Anne’s School in Garden City for four years, Selden Middle School for two years, and at Shell Bank Junior High School in Brooklyn for five years. Stollow is certified as a biology and 7-12 general science teacher and N-6 elementary teacher from SUNY Old Westbury. She also holds a master’s in reading K-12 from Long Island University in Brookville.
Michelle Long, a former South Woods Middle School student who is expected to graduate from Harvard College in May 2017 and who nominated Stollow for the award, said that the teacher fostered “the most amazing environment for kids who love science” and showed her “what it meant to be a brilliant woman who is passionate about science and about people.”
“I can confidently say that Mrs. Stollow has inspired a generation of students and has created a tight-knit network and family within Syosset,” said Long. “Every day I aspire to be as strong, intelligent, and caring as Mrs. Stollow and to be a woman capable of motivating and inspiring others as she has always done for me.”
Belanger attended Syracuse University and received his graduate degree from Hofstra University. He worked on a lobster boat for 11 years before beginning his teaching career at Syosset High School, where he has worked for the last 29 years. He now teaches honors chemistry, remedial chemistry, and science research. One recent notable accomplishment was directly mentoring a project which was recognized as a Siemens Competition semifinalist in 2013. He estimates he has written about 800 student recommendation letters over the course of his career, including about 30 to Harvard College.
Married with three children, ages 12, 10 and 8, Belanger’s avocations include woodworking, gardening, guitar, and genealogy.
Karishma Minal Shah, a former Syosset High School student who is expected to graduate from Harvard College in May 2017, described Belanger as “a great research mentor” and “a fabulous teacher.”
“I distinctly remember walking into my first class with him and receiving an 80-page bound book that contained the worksheets he had created and that we would need for the rest of the year to perform labs and review for exams. That day, he also performed fascinating experiments, which immediately sparked the students’ love for chemistry,” said Shah. “With his organization, ability to engage the audience, and personality, he created a chemistry community that no other teacher could—that truly felt like a family. To this day, my friends and I in that class still interact and talk appreciatively about the fond memories we had shared.”
When Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Rogers learned of the awards to Belanger and Stollow, he said both teachers are more than deserving of this honor.
“Mr. Belanger is considered by his students and colleagues alike as the consummate classroom professional. His impact on students lasts way beyond their years at Syosset High School,” Rogers said. “Linda Stollow changes lives. It’s no mystery why she has been remembered and acknowledged by current Harvard students—she and her work are truly unforgettable.”
This year’s 14 Distinguished Teacher Award winners were nominated by current Harvard undergraduates and then selected by Harvard Club of Long Island board members. This year’s award winners teach biology, chemistry, earth science, English, history, International Baccalaureate, Latin, math, music, science research and Spanish. The winners teach in the Baldwin, Bay Shore, Bellmore-Merrick, East Meadow, Island Trees, Jericho, Plainedge, Sachem, Sewanhaka, Syosset and Three Villages school districts, as well as St. Anthony’s High School and The Stony Brook School.
Prior winners of this award in the Syosset Central School District have included math teacher Arthur Kalish in 2005, biology teacher Stephen Wolfson in 2006 and history teacher Allison Noonan, who was named an honorary member of the Harvard Club of Long Island and awarded a fellowship for a “Harvard experience” in 2014.