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Wagner, Christensen Named Teachers of 2014

Two teachers in the Island Trees School District have been selected as the recipients of the Harvard Club’s “Distinguished Teacher of 2014 Award,” for their dedication as educators.

 

Lori Christensen has been an English teacher in the Island Trees School District for 17 years, and currently serves as Chairperson of her department. She proudly advises the National Honor Society, teaches The College Process, a senior elective and mentors new teachers.

 

Ms. Christensen describes herself as defined by the “three Rs: Running, Reading, and wRiting.” During the year, she is known for attracting teens, teachers, and friends alike for book chat; and during the summer enjoys jogging the Long Beach Boardwalk each day before relaxing with a good book. 

 

Ms. Christensen has received the prestigious “Teacher of Excellence” award from the New York State English Council and, more importantly, received the first ever Teacher of the Year award at Island Trees High School.

 

Mr. Wagner, has taught all but one of his 22 years in the Island Trees district. He currently teaches Physical Setting Earth Science, a course he finds wonderfully stimulating. As the coach of the Island Trees Science Olympiad Team, he enjoys the variety of science that must be mastered, noting that some of what he teaches is college-level material.  

 

An avid photographer of nature and wildlife, Wagner’s hobbies almost consume his interest as much as teaching does. From photographing glacial geology in Alaska to canyons and rock formations in Australia, he tries to use his photos to create memorable images for his students.  

 

Both Christensen and Wagner were nominated for their awards by Kathryn J. Gundersen, a former Island Trees High School student who will graduate from Harvard College in June 2017.

 

Gundersen said that through the teachings of Mr. Wagner, she learned what it means to be passionate about your work. 

 

“I’d never really considered science my ‘thing,’” Gundersen says, “but his passion was absolutely contagious. I can only hope to be as passionate about my future work as he is about his own.”

 

Both teachers exhibit a work ethic second to none, according to Elizabeth Roemer, the Island Trees School District Administrator for Educational Programs, Literacy, and Staff Development. Roemer has worked side by side with both Ms. Christensen and Mr. Wagner, over the past 25 years, and feels they are influential because they live their values. 

 

“Lori leaves the building each day with her purple teaching bag slung on her shoulder, heavy with stacks of her students’ AP Language and Composition papers, current event article responses, and dialectical journals,” Roemer said. “Each night (and weekend) she works tirelessly to offer her students valuable feedback on their written analyses. And she expects the same from her students; just ask any of them, and they would be happy to tell you all about it.” 

News

More than 475 runners from all across Long Island, came together on Aug. 30, for the tenth annual Companions in Courage one-mile run.

 

For Andrea Kopatka, 49, of Levittown, this was her first race in three years. 

 

“I wanted to run this race before I turned 50,” she said. “It was on my bucket list.” 

Over the summer, 13-year-old Zachary Martin of Levittown was named an All-American athlete for his performance on the gridiron, earning him an invitation to the ninth annual Offense-Defense Youth All-American Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

 

Martin, a defensive lineman for the Wisdom Lane Middle School Wildcats, said he was selected among a group of young athletes after attending a rigorous five-day football camp at LIU Post.  


Sports

The National Brain Tumor Society hosts its Long Island Brain Tumor Walk on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Jones Beach State Park, 1000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh. Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. Programs and activities run from 8 a.m. to noon.

Michelle Duffy of Levittown was recently named head coach for the Blue Angels’ cross country program at the College of New Rochelle. 

 

“We are very pleased to have a coach with Michelle’s pedigree take the reins of our cross country program,” said Athletics Director Harold Crocker. “Her success athletically and academically, as well as her ability to mentor and guide young women, makes her the ideal coach for the Blue Angels.”


Calendar

Island Trees Board of Education - September 17

Mini-College Fair - September 17

All-Star Comedy Show - September 18


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com