By David Wang
Mrs. Amy Gaon knew that she was destined to be a teacher from the get-go. Her father, whom she much admired, had been a teacher, and she believed that as a teacher, she could pursue a career while caring for a family. At South, Mrs. Gaon has been a familiar face for chemistry students for over 23 years. Throughout Mrs. Gaon’s teaching career of 31 years, she has mainly taught Regents and honors chemistry, though she has also taught biology and marine science.
She received a Bachelor’s in Education from New York Institute of Technology, along with certifications in teaching math, chemistry, and biology. She then went on to receive a Masters’ in Chemistry Education at Adelphi. Nevertheless, Mrs. Gaon recalls the difficulty of finding a teaching job after graduating, noting that “those kinds of jobs were scarce in the early 80’s.” While job hunting, Mrs. Gaon took a temporary position at a vitamin lab—quickly deciding that the life of a scientist just wasn’t for her. She then became a teacher at HAFSA, Hicksville, Valley Stream North, and Island Park Middle School, before finally settling at Great Neck South High.
Mrs. Gaon cites the “camaraderie with colleagues and the ‘wow’ factor of explaining things to students” as her greatest inspirations. While reminiscing on her time at South, she fondly remembers working with Ms. Leonie Rubin and Dr. Carol Hersh, and receiving thank-you notes from graduating students. “Sometimes my students will leave little notes for me or send me emails at the end of the year, or when they graduate, and I really appreciate those.”
What does she plan to do after retirement? “Spend more time with my grandkids and my children, since I haven’t had much time to do that recently.”
To her current and former students, Mrs. Gaon has some parting words: “Set your goals high and always be who you want to be. Remember, high school is only a small part of your life.” And to new teachers at South, she has this to say: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions…you know, I wasn’t a one-man show. And don’t reinvent the wheel; there are plenty of resources out there that will help you.” With that, South bids Mrs. Gaon farewell—a beloved teacher, mentor, and familiar face in the chem lab.