The Harvard Club of Long Island — a social organization comprised of Harvard alumni and their family — named two Baldwin educators “Distinguished Teachers of 2019” at its annual University Relations Luncheon on March 30. Megan Ferguson-Koci, director of the Baldwin Middle School chamber orchestra, and Leonardo Rivera, an Italian and Spanish teacher at Baldwin High School, were honored alongside 10 other Long Island teachers at the ceremony.
“This award honors teachers who transform lives,” said Judith Esterquest, chairwoman of the HCLI’s Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee. “Devoted teachers like Mrs. Ferguson-Koci and Mr. Rivera offer Long Island students deep expertise, extraordinary talents, and countless hours of attention. By capturing the minds and imaginations of our children and preparing them for challenges that were unknown even a few decades ago, these teachers shape the future of our country.”
Teachers are nominated for the honor by Harvard undergraduates and then selected by HCLI board members. Ferguson-Koci and Rivera were both nominated by Danielle Davis, a BHS graduate expected to graduate Harvard in 2021.
Of Ferguson-Koci, Davis said “She offered me constant support and a safe space in our music wing, cultivating in me a love of playing the cello. She also pushed me outside my comfort zone to audition for the high school honors choir, where I gained lasting friendships and a truly enriching musical experience.”
Davis said Rivera brought life to language learning and inspired her to work toward a language citation in Italian. “The awareness he has taught me has made me more passionate about helping others who do not have the resources and opportunities that I do.”
Shari Camhi, Baldwin school district superintendent, said, “We are extremely proud of the high caliber of our educators. The Baldwin School District is dedicated to excellence in education and leading the way through innovative and robust academic programs that prepare our students to become college, career, and life ready.”
Ferguson-Koci, who teaches orchestra for grades 6-8, has worked in Baldwin for 18 years and is a BHS alumna herself. Rivera has been in the district for more than 14 years. Both received a scholarship for a “Harvard experience,” where they will be able to enhance their education skills by sampling the resources available to Harvard students: meeting with faculty; visiting research laboratories, rare book archives, and specialty museums; and enjoying visual and performance art. The scholarships are funded by contributions from Harvard alumni living on Long Island.