“The recognition of the effort and passion with which I approach each day and each interaction with my students is truly an honor,” Jason Gutlaizer, a chemistry teacher at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square, told the Herald. “I am very proud to be a part of this exceptional group of educators.”
That group consists of 42 Long Island teachers who have been recognized as New York State Master Teachers. The program, which encourages teachers to hone their professional development while guiding their peers, was announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year, and honored educators on Long Island for the first time last month. Gutlaizer, 32, was the only Carey teacher to be honored.
“I didn’t expect it,” said Gutlaizer, who lives in Bethpage. “When I first read the criteria for the program, I thought that I could do it and that I could learn a lot. To get the acceptance was a little bit of a shock.”
Gutlaizer, who has taught at Carey for nine years, added that the interview process for the Long Island cohort of the program, at Stony Brook University, left him wondering if he had a chance to earn the honor, given that he was competing against more experienced educators.
“I suppose the selection committee saw that I love what I do, and that this enthusiasm is transferred to my students,” he said when asked why he thought he was selected. “I strive to get the best out of each and every one of my students each day. I’m always looking to improve myself as an educator. Ultimately they must see something in me that I can bring to the table.”
Gutlaizer, who is a co-advisor for Carey’s class of 2016, described teaching as extremely rewarding, and said that there are two main factors that make him strive for improvement every day. The first is the feeling of validation he gets when a student struggles to understand a concept and ends up mastering it after hard work. The second is when his former students return and tell him what a great experience his class was, and how it helped them.
“To be a motivation and inspiration is very meaningful,” he said. “Very often, the lessons [my students] take away are lifelong lessons that provide insight to themselves, rather than just content.”
In his spare time, Gutlaizer, who is not married, enjoys reading, watching movies, kickboxing and traveling. This year he is teaching 10th- and 12th-grade A.P. chemistry, which he said is his specialty.
Ultimately, he said, the honor will help him become even better in the classroom because he recognizes the unique opportunity of being able to impact the future of the field. “To be able to share ideas and work with some of the best in the field of education is an incredible opportunity and privilege,” he said.