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HMS Teacher Joseph Surgot Saves Student’s Life

Seventh-grader needed Heimlich after choking at lunch

During this holiday season, the Hicksville community has something very special to be thankful for – the quick action of a teacher, Joseph Surgot, who saved the life of a child in October.  

Surgot, a science teacher at the Hicksville Middle School, was on lunch duty in his building’s cafeteria on Oct. 7 when he was alerted to a commotion at a lunch table.  One of his seventh-grade students, 12-year old Kenneth Goubran, was doubled over choking. Surgot ran to the boy and performed the Heimlich maneuver, which he had learned in his First Aid Training course when he became a coach. 

Kenneth began coughing, which was a positive sign showing that he could breathe. As he partially coughed up a mozzarella stick, he took a deep breath, which pulled the food mass back in and lodged it even more deeply in his throat. Suddenly Kenneth’s demeanor changed and Surgot sensed the boy’s panic and instantaneously performed the Heimlich maneuver a second time, which successfully dislodged it.

Surgot graduated from Boston University in 1993 and majored in economics. He began his teaching career in Brooklyn where he worked for three years. Surgot has been with the Hicksville School District for the past 12 years. He enjoys the challenge of inspiring his students to reach their fullest potential.

Joe was publicly commended by Maureen Bright, superintendent of the Hicksville Public Schools at the “District-Wide Conference Day for Staff” in early November. He received a beautiful letter from Kenneth’s family expressing their deepest gratitude for saving their son’s life. When questioned about the incident, Joe felt that any teacher would have responded as he had. However, to his colleagues in the Hicksville Congress of Teachers, Joe Surgot – educator, coach, husband and father – is a true hero!