Thanking Mr. Teret

In 2011, I contacted my high school marine biology teacher by mailing him a letter.  He was one of the handful of teachers who have made a positive impact in my life and I needed to let him know how far his efforts went.  He was much more than a science teacher to me; he taught me how to write better, how to organize my thoughts, how to use logic, how to be responsible, and how to be more efficient in everything I do.  Most importantly, he developed in me a deep respect and interest in marine life that I still carry with me today.  And he was also funny.  In my high school yearbook he wrote, “Success and happiness to a nice squid, don’t flounder around”.

After I mailed my letter to Mr. Teret, he soon got back to me and was ecstatically thankful to me for contacting him.  We spoke on the phone and had a great conversation.  He told me how a few of his former students like myself have reached out to let him know that they too still have a love and interest in marine biology because of him.  I told him all the interesting things I’ve been doing in my life lately and he enjoyed hearing about them.  I also told him about a trip I was planning with my family to go on a whale watch in Provincetown, Cape Cod.  Back in 1982, Mr. Teret brought my class and me on our first whale watch trip together.  It was a pivotal trip in my life that began my life-long fascination with whales.


Me with fellow members of my marine biology class taking notes on a research vessel, circa early 1980s.

Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Teret contacted me out of the blue.  He had just received a lifetime achievement award from the New York State Marine Education Association.  This award called the Founder’s Award, is a highly-coveted prize that very few will ever receive.  When he went on stage to receive this award, he mentioned a handful of his former students whom he had over the years and how they had contacted him years later to thank him for developing a life-long interest in marine biology.  One of the students he mentioned was me.  It brought me great happiness to hear this, possibly as much happiness to Mr. Teret as when I first contacted him five years ago to let him know how much he meant to my life.  The mutual appreciation between Mr. Teret and myself had now become full-circle.

I now impart my wisdom and fascination with marine biology to my own children.  My son, daughter and I recently assisted a marine scientist on a horseshoe crab count at a nearby beach, something you could say was 34 years in the making.


Me trying to remove discarded fishing line that was tightly wound around the legs of a young horseshoe crab.  Eventually we removed all of the line and let the crab swim away.  I’m sure it was grateful for our efforts.

If you have a teacher who has made an impact in your life the way Mr. Teret has made in mine, I highly recommend that you contact them while you still can.  It’s a worthwhile endeavor that you won’t regret.


UPDATE: On May 19, 2019, I finally hooked up with Mr. Teret at a NYS Marine Educator Association (NYSMEA) event that he had invited me to. I got to hang out with him throughout the day and catch up with both of our lives. It was a very memorable day for the both of us.

7 thoughts on “Thanking Mr. Teret

  1. It is so nice to see that Joel is getting the accolades he so richly deserved. I am Gail Resnick, widow of Joels’ boss, Jerry Resnick. Jerry was the head of the science department in which Joel worked. Mr. Resnick brought the marine science program into Sheepshead Bay High School. with the unwavering help and contacts of the late Al Rosenthal who owned Amazon Aquarium on Avenue Z and East 16th Street. It is with Al’s help,knowledge and contacts that the Marine Biology department came to be. Joel was so excited to have a new and wonderful way to approach teaching biology to the students. He has always been at the forefront of bringing new and innovative methods of learning to his students. With the success of the program at Sheepshead, Jerry Resnick and Al Rosenthal brought Marine Biology into schools such as Lincoln High School, IS 303 in Coney Island and Rockaway Park H.S. under the wonderful. leadership of Mickey Cohen.
    When you next speak to Joel please tell him Gail Resnick sends her regards,is very proud of him and knows that Jerry is smiling down on him very proud of his award.

  2. Mr Teret meant a great deal to me as well. It was in his advanced biology class that I began a life long interest in science. I believe he taught me in around 1971. In those days women were not encouraged in the sciences very much. The manner in which he taught just made me more and more interested. I asked many questions and he answered all. I went on to go to dental school and have been practicing in the old neighborhood for 39 years. Thank you Mr. Teret!
    Candy Sebold DDS

    • Hi Candy. This is great! I have been in touch with Joel Teret over the past few years. I hope it was okay that I just shared your comment with him via email. I’ll let you know his response. BTW, how did you discover this blog about him? I’m just curious. Thanks!

  3. Hey Joel, what’s up? Weird how things work in life but I’m sitting here on my couch (in FL) after a long hard day, in a string of many, wondering how I did so well coming from what I would call the “Streets” in Brooklyn? I’m an Accountant, along with many other things, and i do it well and I’m very organized and was wondering how all that happened. After all these years since I went to Sheepshead Bay High I never did give it any thought until right now sitting on my couch late night about Mr. Teret. I’m just now thinking how much I do owe him for his care and professionalism. So many of the things he said I still remember to this day. He was the only teacher preparing students for the realities of college and the work world. He has made a huge impact on my life and I would like to thank him so if you have an email for him I would greatly appreciate it?

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