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Hewlett Teacher Honored by Harvard

Science teacher Stephen Capuano nominated by former student.

A science teacher has been named a “Distinguished Teacher of 2012” by the Harvard Club of Long Island.

Stephen Capuano has taught all levels of science at the high school for 11 years. He is also a certified meteorologist, and enjoys leading map discussions with students whenever a snow day looms.

“The experiences of being a teacher have far exceeded my expectations in every conceivable way,” Capuano told Patch.

Capuano — one of a dozen teachers from Long Island to receive this award ­— will be honored at the Harvard Club’s annual university relations lunch on March 31. The dozen Distinguished Teacher Award winners were nominated by current Harvard students — some of who attended Long Island schools, including Hewlett — and then selected by members of the HCLI. There are approximately 160 undergraduates from Long Island currently at Harvard.

Meryl Natow, a former student of Capuano’s who is a member of the Harvard College Class of 2013, nominated him for the award. She described him as her “most influential teacher.” 

“When I think about Cap, as all of us called him, I remember him mostly as a highly accomplished cartoonist, comedian, and friend,” Natow said. “Cap is able to take an overly complicated concept and make it just entertaining enough so that we learn, but aren't suicidal in the process.”

Capuano earned his BS in atmospheric science at SUNY-Albany. He had planned to get a master’s degree in cloud physics but instead chose to teach, earning his master’s in earth science education from LIU CW Post.

During his studies, he spent two summers as the team meteorologist and photographer at Camp Blanding in Florida, working with a research team funded by the US Navy and Electric Power Research Institute that tested myriad hypotheses by firing rockets into thunderstorms to trigger lightning.

He and his wife Sophia have a toddler daughter named Nephele, which means “cloud” in Greek. Capuano runs a dozen miles a week and plays in a volleyball league, a sport he enjoyed in college. Often asked by students to recommend them to colleges and summer and scholarship programs, he has written as many as a 100 in a year, and upwards of 500 in his career.

When Superintendent Dr. Joyce M. Bisso learned of the award, she said about Capuano: “He gives his students opportunities to construct their learning, to take risks, to make mistakes, and to enjoy themselves while learning.”

In 2006, fellow Hewlett High School science teacher Ric Stark won the Distinguished Teacher Award. At the award ceremony, Stark was awarded a scholarship and honorary membership in the club.

“Beyond measure, these teachers change the lives of their students and contribute to the culture of their schools,” said Aileen Jacobson, president of the Harvard Club. “We are proud to honor them.”

This story is based on a press release by the Harvard Club of Long Island.

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