Harvard Club Recognizes Ms. Re-Yakaboski

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Kathryn Re-Yakaboski of Smithtown Central School District has been named a Distinguished Teacher of 2020 by the Harvard Club of Long Island.

“This award honors middle and high school teachers who have profoundly influenced their students’ lives,” said Dr. Judith Esterquest, Chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee. “Dedicated teachers like Ms. Re-Yakaboski inspire Long Island students to excel, to become passionate about learning, and to recognize the value of hard work. These teachers devote countless hours to creating better futures for our children.” Ms. Re-Yakaboski will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon later in the year, along with 11 other teachers from across Long Island.

After graduating with an international business degree with a concentration in Spanish from Hofstra University, Ms. Yak, as she is known by her students, was selected for a credit-training program and became a financial analyst. After realizing that life working at a large commercial bank was not her calling, she pursued a second undergraduate degree in Earth and space sciences from Stony Brook University and a graduate degree in science education from Hofstra University. She has taught in the Smithtown Central School District since graduation. Initially, she taught eighth grade general science, while for the past 13 years she has taught Regents and honors science to ninth graders.

Matthew Mullahy, a High School East alum who is now a freshman at Harvard University, described Ms. Re-Yakaboski as “enthusiastic in her teaching,” before adding, how she gave interested students more information “to feed their curiosity” and “increase their appetite for further knowledge, both within earth science and beyond.”

“She takes a personal interest in the success of all her students,” Mr. Mullahy continued, “and makes extraordinary efforts to help them succeed and reach their potential.”

When Jennifer Bradshaw, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, learned of this award, she said, “Ms. Re-Yakaboski is a true exemplar of an educator,” before noting, “She frequently reflects on the delivery of her lessons to her students and makes every attempt to reach all of them.”

“Her passion and concern for students extends beyond the Earth science curriculum, dedicating time to truly get to know each and every one of her students,” Ms. Bradshaw said. “She helps them with individual needs and discusses future college and career path options. Ms. Re-Yakaboski is an amazing asset to the science department and Smithtown School District overall.”

At the ceremony, the Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the Distinguished Teacher of 2020 who will also receive a scholarship for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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. Prior award winners from Smithtown Schools include Bruce Kahn for math in 2005 and physics teacher Joseph Rodichok in 2017.