Stephen Locke, a chemistry teacher from Byron-Bergen High School, is the recipient of the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics's 2005 William D. Ryan Inspirational Teacher Award. The $1,000 award is given to a teacher for motivating participants of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics' (LLE) Summer High School Research Program to study in the areas of science, mathematics, or technology.
For the past 15 years, LLE has run a summer research program for high school juniors. These exceptional students have been inspired in the areas of science and technology by their parents and by outstanding teachers. The alumni of this program were asked to nominate those teachers who have inspired them. Locke had the distinction of receiving his nomination from a whole family—Christine Balonek, and her triplet siblings Gregory, Robert and Daniel of Bergen. Christine participated in the 2002 summer program, and her brothers in the 2004 program.
"In the classroom, Mr. Locke's wealth of knowledge and fervor for chemistry in combination with his sense of humor, patience, and dedication to his students create an ideal teacher," says Christine Balonek. "He is never too busy to help a student during a study hall or after school with any science work. His endless devotion to students and the community is one worthy of recognition."
"Mr. Locke not only taught the material given by the state, he also brought in real-life applications," says Robert Balonek. "His teaching methods brought home for me the power of science and technology."
David Pescrillo, principal of Byron-Bergen High School, strongly endorsed Locke's nomination: "Stephen is an excellent teacher who expects the best from his students. He is very kids-oriented. He comes in during the summer, during the weekends and after school hours on his own time to tutor the kids who need help. He is a phenomenal guy!"