East Northport Middle School science teacher, John Braun, was honored in Albany on Sept. 10 as one of four finalists for the New York State Teacher of the Year award.
The seventh-grade science teacher was nominated by two of his students last year and following a subsequent letter of recommendation from their mother, Margarita Wickard, he was entered in the running.
In her letter, she praised Mr. Braun for keeping her daughters engaged in science, describing it as a class that “wasn’t always an interest to them.”
“They both spoke with such enthusiasm about your class,” she wrote. “To watch my daughters come home from school to research and create a lab ‘just because’ was amazing.”
Mr. Braun said that that email alone would have been enough. “That would have been an award all on its own,” he said.
He easily progressed through the next round, which consisted of writing several essays on his teaching philosophy and community involvement.
In his own letter of recommendation, Principal Pasquale DeStefano called Mr. Braun an “extremely devoted” member of the school community. He wrote that in recent years, Mr. Braun founded the East Northport Middle School Bald Tigers, raised over $200,000 for childhood cancer research and collected more than 1,500 pounds of food to support the Long Island Cares pet food drive.
After passing the second round, a representative from New York State came to the school to observe Mr. Braun’s classes and interview several of his students, all of whom recommended him wholeheartedly.
“Seeing how excited the kids were, it was nice to see everyone support me,” he said. “They were all thrilled to be part of it. All that made it worth it.”
Mr. Braun graduated from Northport High School in 1996 and has been teaching at the middle school for 18 years. “I’ve always loved the community,” he said.