South High School teacher John Motchkavitz has been named the 2020 Teacher of the Year by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY).
Mr. Motchkavitz currently serves as the Business and Technology Department Head at South High School. He is a graduate of the Great Neck Public Schools, and he joined the GNPS teaching staff in 2002 following 12 years as a teacher in a neighboring district.
South High Assistant Principal John Duggan nominated Mr. Motchkavitz for the Teacher of the Year award, citing many examples of how his commitment to safety education has had a tremendous impact on his students, the school, and the community.
Ten years ago, Mr. Motchkavitz created a Fire Safety Technology curriculum and course. This elective class provides students interested in fire service with an in-depth understanding of the field and how it impacts the community. Mr. Duggan calls the popular program “extremely unique and forward-thinking,” adding that “many students who have taken it have gone on to careers in various emergency service areas.”
As the lead mentor and founder of Great Neck’s award-winning robotics team, Rebel Robotics, Mr. Motchkavitz established the program on a strong foundation of safety principles. Team members are well-versed in health and safety measures including CPR, AED and first aid, as well as protocols and requirements under OSHA and UL. The team travels to different schools and community groups to educate and inspire others to adopt a culture of safe practices. This commitment to safety has earned Rebel Robotics countless awards at all levels, including three World Championship Safety Awards at FIRST Robotics Competitions in 2013, 2016, and 2019.
Further, Mr. Motchkavitz serves on the South High School Building Safety Committee, where his experience and expertise have directly influenced building safety plans.
Mr. Motchkavitz is a life-long resident of Great Neck and a dedicated member of the Great Neck Alert Volunteer Fire Department since 1985.