This past Sunday, the Harvard Club of Long Island recognized eleven teachers from Long Island as “Distinguished Educators of 2018.” Wheatley’s own Adam Plana was one of the educators recognized at this event.
“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 Mr. Plana 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.”
Mr. Plana will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon on April 15, at the Heritage Club at Bethpage, along with 11 other teachers from across Long Island. Following the award ceremony, Harvard Professor Michael Klarman will lecture on The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the U.S. Constitution. A renowned legal historian and constitutional law scholar, Prof. Klarman will discuss questions that resonate today: why so many features of our constitution insulate the national government from populist political influence, why the Philadelphia convention was so unrepresentative of national opinion, and why ordinary Americans approved a scheme that drastically reduced their political influence?
Mr. Plana attended SUNY Stonybrook and there received both his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and his graduate degree in Education. Mr. Plana, who teaches all levels of Physics, has taught for 22 years, all of them at The Wheatley School. He attributes his long tenure to “mutual respect” between students, teachers and administrators at the school.
The respect earned by Mr. Plana has come from effort, initiative, and vision. In addition to teaching Physics, he has introduced new classes, such as Forensics and the Physics of Sports and Stunts — and coached the Physics Olympics team, advised classes and clubs, coached middle school soccer, and led set-building for school theatricals.
Mr. Plana brings this same level of participation and energy to his personal life, coaching the soccer teams of one or more of his 3 sons for the past 10 years. In recent summers, Mr. Plana, his wife and boys have driven across the country, discovering the wonders of the road while visting many national parks along the way. In his “free time,” Mr. Plana has been the lead guitarist and singer for several rock bands, including the faculty rock‑and‑roll band that plays at student functions.
Andrew Zuckerman, a former Wheatley student who is expected to graduate from Harvard College with the class of 2021, nominated Mr. Plana. Mr. Zuckerman was class president, when Mr. Plana was his class advisor, and a student in Mr. Plana’s Physics class. “What I loved about Mr. Plana was the seriousness with which he took physics,” recalls Mr. Zuckerman. “He wanted us to understand each topic fundamentally. Live demos were frequent. Diagrams were abundant. Questions after class were welcome.”
Mr. Zuckerman credits Mr. Plana with his motivation for success at Harvard. “Mr. Plana stressed the importance of learning for the sake of learning. He reminded me to push myself for reasons that lie outside of external validation.”
Dr. Sean Feeney, Principal of The Wheatley School, says “One of our veteran educators, Mr. Plana is loved by students and parents alike. A collaborative educator, Mr. Plana is a leader in our school. He mentors younger teachers and freely shares his strategies and techniques with colleagues. In the classroom, his hands-on approach to teaching helps students connect the content to the practical. He motivates and inspires some of our best students.”
Dr. Feeney continues, “Outside of the classroom, Mr. Plana connects with students in a variety of ways, most notably the weekly early morning soccer scrimmages. Mr. Plana epitomizes the Wheatley Spirit of collaboration, close connections with students, and classroom creativity. We are fortunate to have him as part of our faculty.”
At the ceremony on April 15, the Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the Distinguished Teacher of 2018 who will also receive a scholarship for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass. Past winners of the scholarships have enhanced their teaching by sampling the resources available to Harvard students: meeting with faculty; visiting research laboratories, rare book archives, and specialty museums; and enjoying visual and performance art. The scholarships are funded by contributions from Harvard alumni living on Long Island.
This year’s 12 Distinguished Teacher Award winners were nominated by current Harvard undergraduates and then selected by Harvard Club of Long Island board members. This year’s award winners teach economics, English, history, math, physics, chemistry, science research, and Spanish. The winners teach in the Bellmore-Merrick, Bohemia, Brentwood, East Meadow, East Williston, Herricks, Hewlett, Lynbrook, Manhasset, Mt. Sinai, and Roslyn school districts.
The East Williston School District has had one previous winner; Kevin Meyers, teacher of mathematics, was recognized in 2006.
Thanks to Dr. Judith Esterquest, we have some photos from Sunday’s event!