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Schools

Harvard Club Honors Physics Teacher Terese Keogh

Terese Keogh of Manhasset High School has been named a “Distinguished Teacher of 2013” by the Harvard Club of Long Island.

“Our awards recognize people who transform the future,” explained Dr. Judith Esterquest, a board member of the Long Island Harvard Club. “Dedicated teachers like Mrs. Keogh expend unfathomable amounts of time and energy on our Long Island teens, day after day and year after year. Their efforts inspire students to dream dreams, to work to accomplish those dreams, and to think rigorously about what they want their future to be.”

One of a dozen teachers from across Long Island to receive this award — from across the 120 school districts on Long Island — Mrs. Keogh will be honored at the Harvard Club’s annual University Relations Lunch on April 7. Following the award ceremony, Harvard professor Dr. Maria Tatar will give a short lecture on “Mythical and Magical: The Resurgence of Fairy Tales in Popular Culture.” Renowned for her many books and articles which have elevated the study of fairy tales and folklore into a mainstream academic pursuit, Dr. Tatar chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University and holds an endowed chair as the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

Mrs. Keogh, who has spent 13 of her 30-year teaching career at Manhasset, teaches AP and regents physics. Besides coaching the Manhasset Physics Olympics team, Mrs. Keogh spends many additional hours with students and on behalf of students. She has written over 2,000 recommendations for students over her career, supporting their applications to colleges, summer programs and scholarships, and has occasionally sent off as many as 200 letters in a single year. Her undergraduate degree is from New York University.

Nominated by Olivia Henry, a former student who is currently a freshman at Harvard College, Mrs. Keogh was described as “by far the best teacher I had all through high school.”

“She had a tremendous impact on me by teaching me lessons in and out of the classroom,” explained Ms. Henry, “AP Physics was one of the most challenging science classes in our school, but many students opted to take it, just to have Mrs. Keogh as a teacher.”

“Mrs. Keogh always emphasized to her students that learning was not just about grades on tests,” Ms. Henry continued, “but about how what we learn can be observed in the real world and how we can use our knowledge beyond the classroom. Mrs. Keogh always went above and beyond in her teaching by offering extra help and always finding interesting examples to get her students involved and enthusiastic about physics.”

At the April 7 ceremony, the HCLI will announce the Distinguished Teachers of 2013 who will also receive scholarships for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, MA. The scholarships are funded by contributions from Harvard alumni living on Long Island. “These teachers inspire excellence,” added Susan Novick, president of the Harvard Club. “We are proud to honor them.”

When Superintendent of Schools Charles Cardillo learned of this award, he said, “Mrs. Keogh is the personification of Manhasset High School‘s philosophy that the combination of high standards and excellent teaching ensures that all students can and will succeed,” before adding, “Her upbeat and enthusiastic demeanor, combined with her expertise in physics, creates a wonderful learning environment.”

“Mrs. Keogh’s engaging presentation and lecture style, combined with her warm, supportive and humorous nature, connects very well with students,” Superintendent Cardillo continued, “She successfully responds to student inquiry with challenges, requiring students to reflect upon prior content, or to think more deeply into the topic at hand.  Encouraging such higher-level thinking supports the more advanced learners in the class, while still engaging and effectively challenging students across the full spectrum of academic levels.”

This year’s 14 Distinguished Teacher Award winners were nominated by current Harvard students and then selected by members of the HCLI. This year’s award winners teach history, English, math, science, music, and physical education. A few teach at schools that send one or two students to Harvard almost every year; others teach at schools that have sent only a couple in 20 years. These include Baldwin, Elmont, Half Hollow Hills West, Manhasset, Massapequa, Mineola, Northport, Patchogue-Medford, Roslyn, Sewanhaka, Wantagh, and West Islip High Schools, and Southampton Intermediate School.

Prior winners of this award from the Manhasset school district include 2010 award winner Eric Shapiro, who teaches English at the middle school; 2009 award winner Dr. David Dorman, AP History; and 2005 award winner Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, AP English and Gifted & Talented, who was also named an honorary Fellow of the Harvard Club of Long Island and enjoyed a scholarship to attend a program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“Over the past 20 years, Harvard has accepted students from more than two-thirds of the approximately 120 school districts on Long Island,” said Carolyn Hughes, who chairs the HCLI Schools & Scholarships Committee, which ensures every Long Island applicant to Harvard gets a personal alumni interview. “In the past five years, Harvard has accepted students from more than half of these districts, offering admission without regard for financial need. Harvard’s generous financial aid program, which provides financial aid for families making up to $180,000, has helped keep it affordable. Because of this reach, we decided to have current Harvard undergraduates nominate the Long Island teachers who had the greatest effect on their lives and the lives of their fellow students.” The Harvard Club of Long Island website is www.harvardclubli.com.

This year Harvard College received over 34,000 applications nationally (not quite 700 from Long Island) and will accept under 2,100, that is, about 6 percent. There are approximately 160 undergraduates from Long Island currently at Harvard College.