Calhoun High School English teacher Jason Elias was driving when he got a call from his principal, David Seinfeld, in August. Since it was summer, when Elias wouldn’t expect to hear from Seinfeld, he figured something was up and had to answer, so he pulled over and picked up.
Seinfeld was calling to inform Elias that a number of his colleagues and students had gotten together and secretly submitted an application to Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., on his behalf. It was an application for a very special honor –– Mercy’s Long Island Teacher of the Year Award. Seinfeld was calling to say that Elias had won.
“It was definitely a surprise,” said Elias, who teaches Advanced Placement English at Calhoun and coaches varsity soccer at Kennedy High School, which takes in students from Merrick and Bellmore. “It was very nice. It was really great.”
Mercy College President Dr. Kimberly Cline came to Calhoun on Oct. 12 to present Elias with the award, which was in the form of a glass apple.
Dr. Henry Kiernan, superintendent of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, was on hand at the ceremony, which took place before a crowd of students in Elias’s classroom, toward the back of Calhoun High.
“Jason is an outstanding teacher, and represents the values of teaching and learning that mean so much to the students, parents and the learning community,” said Kiernan. “He’s highly creative, very energetic.”
Elias, who graduated from Calhoun in 1987, has taught English for 17 years, including six in the Brentwood School District and 11 at Calhoun. “It’s an honor to teach in the rooms that I learned in,” he said.
He played varsity soccer at SUNY Binghamton, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1991. He went on to receive graduate degrees from Hofstra University and Queens College. He now teaches the Senior Experience class in addition to AP English. He co-teaches the course with social studies teacher Kate Caporusso and internship coordinator Pete Palazzo. Senior Experience offers students the chance to pursue real-world internships toward the end of their final year of high school.