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Clarkson honors Inspirational High School Educators


POTSDAM - Four teachers nominated by Clarkson University seniors will be honored as the 2014 Clarkson University Inspirational High School Educators.

The award recognizes these educators for their lasting impact on their students and in their fields of education.

Award winner Chung Chan of Brooklyn, a history and economics teacher at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, was nominated by former student Wuli Liu of Brooklyn, a senior electrical engineering honors program major at Clarkson.

Liu said that it was an honor to nominate Chan for his hard work and sacrifice and that he changed his life. Without him, he says that he doesn’t think he would have come to Clarkson. “I came to the U.S. when I was 15 and went to school in Brooklyn,” he said. “I knew only that English had 26 letters and that my new environment was scary. In Mr. Chan’s classes, I learned American and world history - and how to adapt to a very different culture. He stressed the importance of attending college and recommended schools outside New York City as, ‘the best way to know more about America.’ And then, he helped me prepare.”

Carolyn Hancock of Essex, Vt., a homeschool teacher, was nominated by her son and former student Kyle Hancock, a senior chemical engineering major.

Kyle said that his mother is one of the most inspiring people he’s ever met. Carolyn Hancock trained as a software engineer, but spent the past 16 years homeschooling four children from grades one through 12. “When I was in kindergarten, my mother found local schools were not conducive to her kids’ success,” he said.

“After exhausting alternatives, my mother quit her full-time engineering job to teach us at home. In doing so, she left a successful career and a fast-track to management. The family income was cut by more than 50 percent. Her choice had other ramifications, some severe. And as I grow older, I am increasingly awed by the magnitude and selflessness of her decision.”

Jennifer Shatrau of Clay, a calculus teacher at East Syracuse Minoa High School in East Syracuse, was nominated by former student Andrea Riedman of Kirkville, a senior civil engineering major.

Riedman said that Shatrau had earned this award for her dedication and her “amazing skills” as an educator, including the life lessons she teaches her students. “She taught me to do what I love, try new things and to make the most of what life throws at you,” she said. “If it wasn’t for her getting me though high school, I wouldn’t have made it to Clarkson. She gave me the strength to embrace life and move on. I was able to succeed both in and out of the classroom because of her encouragement. It is teachers like Mrs. Shatrau that make going to school more than just learning from a textbook.”

Ted Simons of Selkirk, a physics teacher and track & field coach at Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville, was nominated by former student Karen Dawson of Voorheesville, a senior chemical engineering, environmental engineering and political science honors program major.

Dawson said that Simons deserves this award for his passion, his ability to make physics relatable and for caring deeply about his students’ success. “Amid his lessons on equations and other material, he also showed us how these things could be applied to real life,” he said. “He could relate scientific concepts to things I was interested in - and that made physics fascinating. He comes into class with a smile every day and teaches by engaging the students, not lecturing at them. He takes time to listen to students and offers an experienced perspective. Mr. Simons got me thinking about a career in engineering. And he offered me great advice that ultimately led me to Clarkson. “

The educators will be honored on campus at a special awards dinner on May 9 and then again during the commencement ceremony on the following day.

“We all can think back to a teacher, coach or advisor we had growing up whose lessons had long-lasting effects on us,” Vice President for University Outreach and Student Affairs Kathryn B. Johnson said. “These educators challenged and supported their students in ways that transitioned them to have a successful experience at Clarkson.”

Each year, Clarkson asks its seniors to nominate the secondary school educators who have significantly affected their lives and helped guide their higher education and career decisions.

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