Written by Illustrated News Staff Thursday, 01 May 2014 00:00
Herricks School District teacher Karen Hughes was recently honored with the Distinguished Teacher Award from the Harvard Club of Long Island.
Hughes, who is currently president of the Herricks Association of Administrators and Supervisors, was one of 14 Long Island teachers to receive the award at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s recent University Relations Luncheon.
Hughes was nominated by Benjamin Pleat, a former student of Hughes and current freshman at Harvard College.
“It meant even more to be nominated by one of the finest students I ever- taught,” Hughes said. “I don’t think you go into education expecting to receive accolades or awards for your work.”
Hughes began her career as a student teacher at Herricks High School before teaching at West Hempstead High School for three years after graduation. She returned in 1991 to Herricks High School, where she teaches Advanced Placement chemistry. She has served as chairperson of the Herricks High School Science Department since 2005.
Hughes holds a bachelor of science degree from LeMoyne College, a master’s degree in science education from Adelphi University, and a school district administrator certificate from Stony Brook University.
“Teaching a perfect class every period, every day is unattainable but if any mortal human could come close it would be Karen Hughes,” said Dr. John Bierwirth, Superintendent of Schools. “She challenges and inspires students. She makes them think. She excites them to learn more not only in her own classes but in all classes and for the rest of their lives.”
Pleat described Hughes as “an extraordinary influence.”
“Ms. Hughes may have been the best teacher I have ever had in the classroom, but not just because of her unique ability to intertwine amazing life stories,” Pleat wrote in a letter. “For me, it was her ability to inspire a newfound love of science in each of her first-period class members. Personally, I will always be grateful to Ms. Hughes for the invaluable lessons she taught in AP Chemistry, or as the entire class re-named it, AP Chemistry And Other Life Lessons.”
Past winners of the Distinguished Teacher Awards from Herricks include Mr. John McManus (2010) and Ms. Renee Barcia (2009).
“Our awards recognize teachers who spend unfathomable amounts of time and energy on our Long Island teens, year after year,” explained Dr. Judith Esterquest, Harvard Club of Long Island treasurer and chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee.
“Dedicated teachers like Ms. Hughes inspire students to dream, to work to accomplish those dreams, and to think rigorously about what they want their future to be.”