Michelle Flannory of Elmont Memorial and Eric Premisler of Sewanhaka High School have been named “Distinguished Teachers of 2017” by the Harvard Club of Long Island.
“This award honors teachers who transform lives,” explained Dr. Judith Esterquest, Harvard Club of Long Island Chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee. “Devoted teachers like Mrs. Flannory and Mr. Premisler 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.”
Mrs. Flannory has taught chemistry and science research for almost 20 years, 17 in the Sewanhaka Central High School District. As an undergraduate at Pace University, majoring in biology and minoring in journalism, she considered a career in science-related journalism but after graduation took a job as a non-certified science teacher in New York City — and discovered her passion. Subsequently, she earned a Masters in Environmental Science Education from Queens College and a Leadership Certification from the College of St. Rose.
Honored with a number of awards for her teaching, she is particularly proud of her 2008 Siemens Science Teacher Award, Intel Talent Search Teacher of Distinction Award, and her recognition as the 2010 Elmont Memorial Teacher of the Year. Her service includes years coaching volleyball, and several hundred recommendations for students applying to colleges, summer programs, and scholarships. Outside of school, Mrs. Flannory focuses on her two “adorable children,” enjoying family time, travel and coffee.
Nominated for this award by Elmont Memorial alumni Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, a freshman at Harvard University, Mrs. Flannory was described as rescuing her former student’s early love of science, by helping her “realize that pursuing the unconventional could be worthwhile.”
Commenting that her accomplishments “are not a testament to my ability alone,” Augusta sees them as “epitomizing the power of a mentor, the power of having strong support systems despite your circumstances.” Indeed, the Harvard freshman continued, “Looking back, I am grateful to Mrs. Flannory for being a constant mentor, supporter and motivator.”
“I owe it to Mrs. Flannory for shaping me into the young woman that I am today,” Augusta concluded, “willing to take any barrier to success head on.”
Eric Premisler has taught for 16 years, the past 12 at Sewanhaka High School, where he teaches AP United States history, as well as United States history and government at the regents level. He is also known for his criminal justice course and a course he developed that views American history through the lens of popular films.
Mr. Premisler majored in history and minored in political science at the University of Vermont before earning his masters from Adelphi University in secondary education social studies. He brings a wealth of experience to the classroom, from working as a chef, to working in a record store, to working in a NYC afterschool program. Over the course of his teaching career, he has written about 150 letters of recommendation for his students.
Married for 10 years, Mr. Premisler and his wife have two sons, aged 6 and 3. As a family they love spending time outdoors, skiing in winter and enjoying the same sleep-away camp in the Poconos that he first visited three decades ago.
Shahrukh Khan, an alum of Sewanhaka who is currently a senior at Harvard, described Mr. Premisler’s use of “scintillating rhetoric” to help “me contextualize history with stories about U.S. presidents and civil rights activists,” using a style that is “broadly funny and approachable.”
Shahrukh noted, “he valued academic excellence for and in his students,” describing “even four-page research papers” that involved “multiple drafts, all laced in red pen.” This rigor was complemented by “Mr. Premisler’s being there for us,” in and out of class: “Review sessions, office hours, chapter guides, and encouraging (but critical) feedback on assignments” all fostered consistent learning over the course of the year.
When Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ralph Ferrie learned of this award, he said, “Eric Premisler is an outstanding member of the Social Studies Department at Sewanhaka High School. I would describe him as challenging, yet supportive of his students. His ability to reach, influence and challenge them is unmatched.”
The superintendent described Mrs. Flannory as a “consummate educator,” noting her “integral role in developing the Science Research Program” at Elmont Memorial High School, where her “hard work and dedication” has led to Elmont Memorial now having “three students become Intel Science Semi-Finalists.”
“Always going above and beyond for her students, often staying late into the evening and coming into school on Saturdays,” Dr. Ferrie continued, “Ms. Flannory always challenges her students to realize their dreams and reach their full potential.”
Mrs. Flannory and Mr. Premisler will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon on April 30, along with 10 other teachers from across Long Island. At the ceremony, the Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the Distinguished Teacher of 2017 who will also receive a scholarship for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass.