University of Rochester

Local Science Teacher Receives 'Inspirational Teacher' Award

August 9, 2006

Thomas Lewis of Spencerport, N.Y., a retired earth science teacher at Greece Arcadia High School, is the recipient of the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics's 2006 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.

Since 1989, 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. Lewis was nominated by Benjamin L. Schmitt, participant in the 2003 summer program with a letter co-signed by 13 other students.

"Mr. Lewis was an inspirational, monumental educator," says Schmitt. "He provided constant challenges and supplied his students with current publications and electronic media about their individual interests. His pursuit of direct student encouragement and interaction came with weekly invitations to his home for star-viewing events."

Since its inception, more than 200 students have participated in the LLE summer research program. Of these, 20 have been selected among the 300 semifinalists nationwide in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search. Often the only semifinalists from Upstate New York come from the LLE program. On three occasions, students from the program have made it to the group of 40 finalists, who attend a one-week-long final round of judging in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the LLE High School Research Program, please contact Stephen Craxton at 585-275-5467.