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Middle School Teacher Receives Harvard Club “Distinguished Teacher of 2019 Award”

Robert Klang of Manhasset Middle School has been named a “Distinguished Teacher of 2019” by the Harvard Club of Long Island.

“This award honors teachers who transform lives,” explained Dr. Judith Esterquest, Chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee. “Devoted teachers like Mr. Klang offer Long Island students deep expertise, extraordinary talents, and countless hours of attention. By capturing the minds and imaginations of our children and preparing them for challenges that were unknown even a few decades ago, these teachers shape the future of our country.”

Mr. Klang will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon on March 30, along with eleven other teachers from across Long Island. Harvard Professor Matthew Baum will speak on the role of the media and public opinion in contemporary American politics, also offering insight and commentary on how the rest of the world views US media coverage of domestic and foreign news.

Mr. Klang has taught middle-school science in the Manhasset District for almost two decades. Besides coaching middle-school boys tennis, he has mentored many student teachers and served on academic committees and cross-team initiatives.

After earning his BS in biology at Cortland College, Mr. Klang served two years in the Peace Corps in Libera, West Aftrica, where he taught health education in clinics and schools. On his return, he earned his Masters in Public Health, focusing on international health, at Columbia University before becoming director of residences for developmentally disabled adults.

Mr. Klang says he still relishes teaching, likely because his years of experience have shifted his focus from teaching science to teaching children. He and his wife Susan have two grown sons: Keith currently serves as Director of the Port Washington Library, while Ryan is SVP and COO of The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. In his personal time, Mr. Klang has enjoyed writing poetry for what he terms “many, many, many years.”

Describing Mr. Klang as “An extraordinary teacher who makes all students feel appreciated and challenged,” Anne Mills, a 2013 graduate of Manhasset Middle School, who will graduate from Harvard College this year commented, “Mr. Klang made his classes engaging with personal anecdotes about his time in the Peace Corp” yet “always related them to the lesson of the day.”

“Without Mr. Klang’s instilling confidence” in me for “upper-level STEM courses,” continued Ms. Mills, remembering his influence from a decade ago, she said she believes she would not be graduating with a Mathematical Sciences secondary at Harvard. But he didn’t just help her, she concluded, “In his many years at Manhasset, Mr. Klang has recognized every student's greatness, encouraging each student to excel.”

When Superintendent of Schools Dr. Vincent Butara learned of this award, he described Mr. Klang as “a lovely, lovely man!”

“Bob Klang is a true gentleman who cares so greatly for his students,” continued Supt. Butera, “It is no surprise to me that a former student remembered Mr. Klang so fondly. It is an honor to know Mr. Klang. I am so happy to see him recognized for this impact on a young person’s life.”

At the ceremony on March 30, the Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the Distinguished Teacher of 2019 who will also receive a scholarship for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, MA. Past winners of the scholarships have enhanced their teaching by sampling the resources available to Harvard students: meeting with faculty; visiting research laboratories, rare book archives, and specialty museums; and enjoying visual and performance art. The scholarships are funded by contributions from Harvard alumni living on Long Island.

This year’s dozen Distinguished Teacher Award winners were nominated by current Harvard undergraduates and then selected by Harvard Club of Long Island board members. They teach biology, chemistry, earth science, English, history, government, Italian, Music, 7th-Grade Science, and coach cross country. The winners teach in Baldwin, Brentwood, Commack, East Hampton, Garden City, Huntington, Jericho, Manhasset, Port Washington, and Syosset in grades seven to twelve.

In the 15 years since the Harvard Club began these awards, it has honored nine Manhasset teachers, more than any other district on Long Island: Dr. David Dorman, History, in 2009; Eric Shapiro, MS, English, in 2010; Terese Keogh, Physics, in 2013; Marcia Untracht, English, in 2014; Diann Flanagan, Science, in 2016; Annie Law, Economics, in 2017; Jacqueline Wiley, Spanish, in 2018.

Two Manhasset teachers have been awarded scholarships for a “Harvard Experience” and named Honorary Fellows of the Harvard Club of LI: Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, HS English & MS G&T in 2005; Gary Chen, MA Earth Science in 2016.

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