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Port Jefferson School Districk

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The Port Jefferson School District boasts an exceptional and historic achievement with one of its own educators. Dr. Tara Sladek-Maharg is the first teacher from the district to be named a Distinguished Teacher of 2022 by the Harvard Club of Long Island. 

According to Dr. Judith Esterquest, chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee, the award honors middle and high school teachers who have profoundly influenced their students’ lives. “Dedicated teachers like Dr. Sladek-Maharg inspire Long Island students to excel, to become passionate about learning, and to recognize the value of hard work. These teachers devote countless hours to creating better futures for our children,” she said. 

Dr. Sladek-Maharg will be honored at a virtual awards ceremony on April 2, along with seven other teachers from across Long Island. Delivering the keynote will be Harvard Professor of Psychology Fiery Cushman, who studies how people make moral decisions.

Dr. Tara Sladek-Maharg. Photo from PJSD

Affectionately called “Doc” by her students, Dr. Sladek-Maharg has taught social studies and psychology at the middle and high school in Port Jefferson since 2000. Before teaching, she lived in Vienna, Austria, and worked as a Fulbright English teaching assistant. She speaks fluent German and has studied Russian and Mandarin. While Dr. Sladek-Maharg downplays her own accomplishments, directing her pride toward her students, she does describe pride about bringing therapy dogs into the school district, not only to calm stressed students and faculty, but also to offer her AP Psychology students a living model of classical conditioning. 

“Dr. Tara Sladek-Maharg exemplifies an extraordinary educator. She has created a learning environment for students that stimulates individual potential,” said Superintendent of Schools Jessica Schmettan. “Her dedication, enthusiasm and guidance in inspiring and challenging our students extends beyond the classroom and helps transform Port Jefferson students into lifelong learners.”

At the virtual ceremony, the Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the Distinguished Teacher of 2022 who will also receive a scholarship for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, MA. The scholarships are funded by contributions from Harvard alumni living on Long Island. 

This year’s Distinguished Teacher Award winners were nominated by current Harvard undergraduates and then selected by Harvard Club of Long Island board members. They teach algebra, biology, chemistry, English, history, language arts, and psychology. 

Dr. Sladek-Maharg is the first teacher from the Port Jefferson School District to be honored by the Harvard Club of Long Island.