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Congratulations to Primary School Kindergarten teacher Alex Langbein ’03 who was named the recipient of the 2021 Founders’ Cup for Teaching Excellence. The Founders’ Cup Award, established in 1993, recognizes MKA’s strong tradition of teaching excellence dating back to 1887. The award is presented to an outstanding faculty member representative of the best qualities of teaching at MKA, inside and outside of the classroom, including coaching and mentoring. The Alumni Association welcomes nominations for the Founders’ Cup Award from all members of the MKA family, including current students, parents, alumni, administration, and faculty. 

Alex Langbein has been affiliated with MKA for over 25 years---as a student (Class of 2003) and then as a teaching professional. Alex holds a BS in Sports Management and an MA in Early Childhood Education, both from Springfield College, Massachusetts.  During his graduate studies, he was a Teaching Fellow and then selected as Class Marshall for his commencement. Alex has always been passionate about working with young children and was inspired to pursue a career in education and youth development by his experiences as a tennis professional. After completing his advanced degree and a short tenure as an in-classroom paraprofessional in the Essex Fells School system, Alex returned to his alma mater, initially as a Pre-K teacher and then, after five years, a Kindergarten teacher. His empathetic and caring approach helps each student achieve not only core competencies but also individual self-confidence and respect for fellow students. In addition to his classroom responsibilities, Alex coaches middle school sports at MKA, including the boys’ and girls' tennis teams and the boys' basketball team. His emphasis on inclusiveness for all players and good sportsmanship define his coaching style. Alex serves on key MKA committees (Health and Safety and School Status Advisory Team), liaising with faculty, parents, and administrative staff. For many years, he has been the consistently positive and enthusiastic morning greeter for the Lower School drop-off. In addition to a love of running and tennis, Alex is an avid sports fan, especially for the Knicks and Jets. His greatest joy is spending time with his wife Jen, family, and friends.

After receiving the award from Alumni Council President Caitlin D’Ruggiero 06 at MKA’s end-of-school meeting, Alex said, “I want to thank my mentors and colleagues over the last decade at Brookside. Especially my co-teachers, who have given me so much. Marie Richardson, Sue Awerdick, Kathy Sasena, Daniela Vespucci, Breanna Conley, Gretchen Ievers, and Erica DeTrolio. And also the leadership of Jessica Sarfati and John Odell as grade level chairs. Yes, that is a lot of co-teachers for 10 years at the Primary School! I asked Ginger Kriegel many many times, if changing teaching partners so frequently was because I was exhausting them with my energy! At the end of the day, I want nothing more than for my students to be good citizens and members of our community. Kind. Caring. Cougars. When I see that translate to the Middle and Upper school levels, it means the world to me. There is nothing more satisfying than when a former student or athlete approaches me with eye contact, says hello, and asks how I am doing. It makes it all worth it.”

His students, who made our first ever video nomination, his students’ parents, alumni, and colleagues sent great nominations for Alex, praising him for the exemplary teacher, colleague, mentor, and friend that he is. Some of the accolades written about him include: 

One word describes Mr. Langbein: phenomenal. Mr. Langbein is an amazing teacher, who manages to meet every child at their level and works tirelessly to accelerate their path to success. Beyond academic achievement, Mr. Langbein focuses on each child’s social and emotional growth and maintains close contact with each child's family so everything can be addressed with a team approach. Managing a group of 5 and 6-year-olds is no easy task, especially during times of remote and hybrid learning due to COVID, yet Mr. Langbein is always calm, composed, positive, and fun. He finds a way to connect with every student. Our children are truly lucky to have him as a teacher.

This is our daughter’s first year here at MKA, and needless-to-say we had much trepidation about sending her to a new school during a pandemic. I am not a teacher, but I come from a family of teachers and I know how difficult yet rewarding it can be to be a teacher, much like being a parent. But right off the bat, Charlie was in love and mesmerized by the wonders of kindergarten, MKA and most of all her teacher, Mr. Langbein. Alex makes it his business to know each child and what makes them tick. He never hesitated to communicate with us about the accomplishments or unique things Charlie did during school which really helped us as parents feel involved especially during a pandemic. Alex’s style of teaching is engaging, creative, and innovative, and he does it all with empathy and strength.

Alex Langbein embodies all that MKA stands for. He shows up for his students everyday not only academically but emotionally as well. He goes out of his way to ensure that his students are thriving in and outside the classroom.

During what has been a challenging year for both students and teachers, Mr. Langbein has created a special, magical Kindergarten experience for our daughter and her class. Each day, he brings an exceptional level of enthusiasm, positivity, and humor to his teaching that helps build a love of learning and excitement for school in his students. His creativity, high-energy, and playfulness keeps the class engaged and excited to explore new ideas. Our daughter expresses disappointment when the weekend arrives because she has to wait two days to return to her Kindergarten class! Mr. Langbein’s gentle and patient encouragement has helped our daughter grow, gain confidence to take new risks at school, and also to relax and be able to ‘be herself’ with her class.

We are so proud of Alex on his well-deserved recognition!