2007 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Dr. Henry Teoh
Distinguished Service Professor
State University of New York-College at Old Westbury
Personally committed to promoting science education for minority students, Dr. Henry Teoh has worked with private industry, state and federal government agencies, and local school districts to provide opportunities for thousands of students at the middle school, high school and college levels. For the past 20 years, his work has been funded by the State Education Department and the National Science Foundation.
Born in war-torn Chungking, China, which his family fled by way of the treacherous Burma-China Road, he began his early education in Rangoon, Burma. Due to political unrest in that region, his father removed him from local schools and sent him to the Methodist English High School. These changes presented linguistic challenges requiring the juggling of Chinese, English and Burmese. Nevertheless, he passed the nation-wide high school examination with distinction. He later earned a bachelor's degree with honors in physics at the University of Rangoon, which was under military threat to close to quell student dissention.
Recognizing there was no academic future for him there, he decided to pursue master's and doctoral degrees in physics at the University of Texas at Austin. This meant leaving his close-knit family, perhaps never to see them again. His first full-time teaching experience was at the State University of New York-Urban Center in Brooklyn. Three years later he joined the faculty of the College at Old Westbury where he attained the rank of distinguished service professor in 1989.
In addition to his academic achievements, Dr. Teoh has spent his career giving back to society. Because of his childhood challenges, he understands the value of education and works toward making it accessible to all.
At the college, he is more than an educator; he is an advocate promoting science education for under-served and under-represented students. As director of the state-supported Science and Technology Entry Programs, he has been instrumental in providing opportunities at both the high school and college levels (STEP and CSTEP) to students in many local districts, including Amityville, Freeport, Malverne and Westbury, and in summer programs, after-school classes, tutorials, seminars and internships.
He and his wife, Lily, have been married 35 years. Their three children are pursuing careers in dentistry, finance and education policy. For relaxation he enjoys working on home renovations and stained glass projects.