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High School Science Teacher is Tops in Nassau County

An infectious passion for science is why Seaford High School educator James Scourtos received the 2024 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Nassau County chapter of the Science Teacher Association of New York State. 

A science teacher at the high school since 1997, Mr. Scourtos is known for his engaging lessons and strong connections with students. Presently, he teaches Advanced Placement Biology and Human Body Systems, a Project Lead the Way course. He has also taught Earth Science, Forensic Science, General Chemistry, Living Environment and Marine Biology during his 27-year career in Seaford.

Mr. Scourtos wants students to share his love of science, so his classes are full of hands-on experiments. Even lectures are filled with visual elements that bring understanding to complicated scientific concepts. He also has adapted his teaching methods to incorporate more digital elements to appeal to a tech-savvy generation.

“Technology has helped me tremendously, and it’s a way to give students more information,” he said. “It has definitely changed the way I teach from when I started, and for the better.”

Another important part of the educational experience is field trips, allowing students to connect with real-world scientists. This year, students from his AP Biology class visited the Dolan DNA Learning Center at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.  

Mr. Scourtos, the second-longest tenured science teacher at the high school, said he shares his award with his colleagues, noting that he has learned so much from them over the years. Even teachers in other subject areas have shared tips and techniques that have made him a better educator. 

“I was shocked and surprised,” he said about receiving the award, “but I’m honored and I’m humbled. It makes me proud and it’s nice to be recognized for my hard work over the years. I’ve always wanted my students to be interested in what I’m teaching. I want them to enjoy it, because I enjoy it.”

Mr. Scourtos holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Binghamton University and a master’s degree in biology education from LIU Post. He is a member of STANYS, the New York State Marine Education Association and the National Association of Biology Teachers. 

He was nominated for the award by Principal Nicole Schnabel. Ms. Schnabel said that he is a very knowledgeable and approachable teacher, and students appreciate his enthusiasm for science. She also said that he has been extremely welcoming to new teachers that have joined the science department. 

“Mr. Scourtos creates a nurturing and inclusive classroom environment where every student feels valued, supported and empowered to excel,” Ms. Schnabel said. “He is not only a teacher, but also a mentor and role model for students and fellow educators. His ability to motivate and inspire both students and colleagues alike is truly commendable and serves as a testament to his exceptional leadership qualities.”

Date Added: 06/24/2024

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