Huntington seniors fondly remember Chris Hender as their fifth grade teacher.

Seniors Will Never Forget their Fifth Grade Teacher

Huntington seniors fondly remember Chris Hender as their fifth grade teacher.

June 8, 2022

Christopher Hender likes to stay out of the limelight if he can. But it’s not always possible for Huntington UFSD’s human resources administrator to do so, especially when his former students honor him as a Distinguished Teacher in front of a crowd numbering 300.

Mr. Hender has been the Huntington School District’s human resources administrator since August 2017. He obtained undergraduate (child study with a concentration in speech) and graduate (literacy) degrees at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue in 2008 and 2012, respectively. He earned an advanced graduate certificate in educational leadership at Stony Brook University in August 2017.

A member of Huntington’s faculty corps since February 2008, Mr. Hender served as a fifth grade inclusion teacher at Woodhull Intermediate School.

It was in his role as a fifth grader teacher at Woodhull that he made an indelible impression on members of Huntington’s Class of 2022, who voted to honor him at this year’s Distinguished Seniors dinner in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.

“Fifth grade was a very special class,” senior Ally Kustera told the dinner crowd. “What a mix. It was a class of characters and man it was an absolute blast. The person responsible for making it an incredible year was Mr. Hender. Even though we were only in fifth grade, his expectations were middle school or even high school level. He pushed us beyond our comfort zone and for that, I am beyond grateful. It was a safe space. A space where it was okay to get a math problem wrong. A place where we were all school related or not. We learned life lessons and practiced thinking critically. But most of all, we were told not to be too critical of ourselves. We had an absolute blast at the fifth grade picnic, where our class battled it out in capture the flag. Mr. Hender cared deeply about everyone in the class, putting us as people first; students second.”

Woodhull School’s central treasurer for seven years, Mr. Hender managed the building’s extracurricular accounts, including the drafting and approval of all checks drawn and the depositing of all monies generated through fundraising activities.

“He always had fun ways to keep students engaged and doing the right things by using tickets and having a big Hersey Kiss on his desk where students would put their tickets in,” said senior Caitlin Murtagh at the dinner. “At the end of the day, he would pick out tickets and if you got called you would get a prize. I also remember him always making funny jokes to make us laugh and to keep us interested in the lesson. He always talked me after class, not just about the lessons, but about life and seeing if everything else was okay. He just made you feel comfortable and you knew he really cared about you.”

While a teacher at Woodhull School, Mr. Hender helped lead the planning and coordination of fifth grade educational field trips, served as faculty advisor for the newspaper club and organized community service projects for the student council.

Mr. Hender’s students learned their lessons well, especially Ms. Kustera and Ms. Murtagh, who spoke so eloquently about their elementary school teacher. Ms. Kustera is headed to the University of Southern California to study interactive entertainment and simulation sciences while Ms. Murtagh will study for a degree in marketing/sports marketing at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.