Harvard Honors Melissa Dreyer

  • Harvard Club Honors

    Melissa Dreyer

    Teacher at Sayville High School

    Class of 2015 Valedictorian Shreeya Panigrahi and current Harvard College student nominated Sayville High School teacher Melissa Dreyer to the Harvard Club as “Distinguished Teacher of 2016”


    Melissa Dreyer, Sayville High School, has been named a “Distinguished Teacher of 2016” by the Harvard Club of Long Island.

    (press release by Harvard Club (Susan Barbash/ Dr, Judith Esterquest) 

     “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. Dreyer 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.”   

    One of fourteen teachers from across Long Island to receive this award — from across the 150 public school districts and private schools on Long Island — Mrs. Dreyer will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon on April 10.

    Nominated as a “Teacher Who Made a Difference” by the Sayville class of 2015, Mrs. Dreyer describes teaching as a “profession where there is growth for both the teachers and students ­  although it is often difficult to measure.” She commented that being recognized is an honor “because I know that my students appreciate my effort.” Mrs. Dreyer has taught both Regents and AP Chemistry at Sayville High School for twelve years. She earned both her Bachelors of Science and Masters degrees from Binghamton University. “What I enjoy most about teaching,” Mrs. Dreyer continued, “is witnessing students make a connection about what we are learning in class to something in our everyday lives. The moment when they discover something on their own is very meaningful to me.”   

    Married and the mother of two, Mrs. Dreyer likes to keep up with latest in Science Education. She also designs and sews figure skating dresses, a hobby that came in response to her daughter’s competitive skating and which now includes more adventurous design and beading across a broader range of admirers.

    Nominated by Shreeya Panigrahi, Class of 2015 Valedictorian at Sayville High School who will graduate from Harvard College in June of 2019, Mrs. Dreyer was praised as a teacher who taught the importance of collaboration in the classroom. Ms. Panigrahi then added, “Mrs. Dreyer helped me develop my writing skills by always asking us to concisely explain our reasoning.... One of the most important things she taught me,” Ms. Panigrahi concluded, “is that it is hard, impossible rather, to do it all –something which continues to help me manage all my commitments.”

    When the Sayville Superintendent of Schools learned of the award, Dr. Walter Schartner commented, “Mrs. Melissa Dreyer is a dedicated science educator at Sayville High School, able to teach Chemistry to all levels of students with great success. Her AP Chemistry students are predominately tenth graders who demonstrate tremendous success in this vigorous course,” Dr. Schartner noted, adding that “her classroom demeanor creates a strong teacher-student bond that continues long after the course has ended. She is a truly exceptional educator and mentor.”

    Principal, Ronald Hoffer describes Ms. Dreyer as a “phenomenal teacher” who is both “dynamic and innovative — and revered by her colleagues.”

    Mrs. Dreyer is the second Sayville teacher to be honored by the Harvard Club of Long Island. Mrs. Kathy Bernstein, now retired, who was the Math department chairperson and taught math at Sayville High School won this award in 2011.

    This year’s fourteen 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 art, biology, chemistry, earth science, English, marine science, math, music, and social studies. The winners teach in the Half Hollow Hills, Herricks, Hicksville, Manhasset, Massapequa, Oceanside, Sayville, Sewanhaka, Syosset and Valley Stream districts, as well as St. Anthony’s High School, The Stony Brook School and the Waldorf School.

    At the ceremony on April 10, the Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the Distinguished Teachers of 2016 who will also receive scholarships for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass. Following the award ceremony, Benjamin M. Friedman, Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University, will discuss Prospects for the US Economy and US Economic Policy.

    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.

    Harvard College has received over 39,000 thousand applications from the US and abroad for the Class of 2020 (almost 650 from Long Island) and will accept fewer than 5%.  “Over the past 20 years, Harvard has accepted students from more than two-thirds of the public, private, parochial, and charter high schools on Long Island,” remarked Carolyn Hughes, who chairs the Harvard Club of Long Island’s Schools & Scholarships Committee, which tries to ensure that every Long Island applicant to Harvard gets a personal alumni interview.  Mrs. Hughes noted that 70% of Harvard undergrads receive financial aid, based exclusively on need and they are not required to take out loans. Harvard is providing more than $180 million in scholarship aid this year.

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