High school science teacher Wayne Mennecke was honored at the second annual Teacher of Excellence Awards ceremony, hosted by State Sen. Phil Boyle at the Bay Shore Fire Department on May 4.
“We celebrated the achievements of 16 outstanding educators and school professionals who have dedicated their lives to teaching and helping their students learn, thrive, and reach their fullest potential,” said Boyle. “Our school communities are so very fortunate to have such passionate educators.”
In addition to inspiring his students in science classes at Islip High School, Mennecke is an ardent environmentalist, published poet and active member of the Islip community.
“Mr. Mennecke is held in high regard by his students, peers, administration and the community,” said Superintendent Susan Schnebel. “The work that he does, both in the classroom and in the community, exemplifies his commitment to the students and the environment. He is truly deserving of this recognition.”
As an educator, Mennecke has been at the forefront of utilizing technology in the classroom, and was one of the first teachers in the district to begin using an interactive white board for his lessons. Over the course of a 20-year career, he has taught Regents living environment and chemistry, marine biology, AP biology, and anatomy and physiology. He has been the adviser of the high school’s Keep Islip Clean environmental club for many years, overseeing a large group of KIC junior commissioners each year and encouraging students to undertake environmental activism at the local level through community cleanups and beautification events.
Mennecke spends every other summer in the badlands of North Dakota and Montana, hunting for dinosaur fossils with the Marmarth Research Foundation, a group of paleontologists that works closely with teachers and students in their educational field program. Mennecke is a published poet, and his work has appeared in “Hanging Loose,” “Avocet,” “Long Island Quarterly” and the environmental anthology “Fracture: Essays, Poems and Stories on Fracking in America.” His first book of poetry, “Pencils Down,” was published in January 2017.
“It is an honor to receive this award from Sen. Boyle,” said Mennecke. “I am fortunate to work with so many amazing, dedicated teachers and faculty members at Islip High School. It is a pleasure to come to Islip every day, where I not only teach biology to my students but learn from them as well. Through KIC Club and community organizations like Seatuck, students become global citizens while acting locally on behalf of the environment. I thank everyone, especially my awesome wife Suzanne and my daughter Katerina.”