Calhoun senior Maddy Gottlieb, 17, offered insight into what makes Elias the teacher that he is. “He’s so supportive. He’s so dedicated. He’s so knowledgeable,” Gottlieb said. “AP literature is my favorite class of the day.”
Gottlieb has applied to SUNY Binghamton, where she wants to study English and education in the hope of one day becoming a teacher like Elias.
Kurt Brown, Calhoun’s 2011 valedictorian, was among the students who helped submit the application for the Mercy College award. “Mr. Elias is an exceptional teacher,” Brown wrote in the application. “What makes him exceptional is his ability to connect with students. Discussions are full of passion. Mr. Elias is the teacher freshmen hope to one day be taught by.”
Elias lives in Staten Island with his wife, Danielle, an attorney, and two young sons, Colin and Aidan, all of whom attended the ceremony honoring him. His parents, Dick and Marge, moved to Merrick in 1976 and still live there.
“It’s really exciting,” Dick Elias said. “To have our son selected as Teacher of the Year for Long Island, I have only good things to say. Jason showed that kind of leadership through school, through college.”
In addition to teaching, Elias writes children’s books, and in 2010 published “And Sometimes Y,” which takes place during a New Year’s celebration at which the once-peaceful Alphabet Village is unexpectedly embroiled in a hotly contested debate — Is “Y” a consonant or a vowel?
No doubt, the book is as lively as Elias’s classes.