Eric Chasanoff, Teacher from UFT
* Retired teacher
Eric “Chaz” Chasanoff, 69, was a passionate education activist and retired science teacher who authored the popular blog “Chaz’s School Daze” from January 2006 until nine days before he died on May 5.
Teaching was a second career for Eric. He started teaching earth science in 1997 in Queens at Jamaica HS, which has since closed. At Jamaica, he also served as coach of the girls’ varsity soccer team.
He became an ATR and later had teaching assignments at Flushing HS, Francis Lewis HS and George Washington Carver HS, all in Queens, before he retired in February 2019.
“He loved teaching and especially loved his students,” said his son, Bryan. “He was a fierce advocate for them as well as other teachers.”
It was that advocacy that led him to blogging, remembered Jonathan Halabi, the chapter leader at the HS of American Studies at Lehman College, the Bronx.
“We ‘met’ online, blogging over union politics,” Halabi recalled. “We both were engaged in the discussion of the proposed contract, and then the shutdown of large high schools and the fate of ATRs.”
Eric poured considerable time into his blog and “was not afraid of stirring up trouble,” said Halabi, who says the two didn’t agree on everything but they always “respected each other.”
Many of his followers posted memories and tributes in response to a message about Eric’s passing posted by his son on the blog. One commenter said: “Your father was a lion of the first order when it came to educating teachers and speaking up for them.”
Former longtime Jamaica HS Chapter Leader James Eterno said he was “so saddened” to learn of Eric’s death.
“I was chapter leader at Jamaica for 18 years,” Eterno said. “ For many of those years, Eric and I served together on Jamaica’s School Leadership Team. Eric was a supporter of empowering the students and the parents. On the issue of school safety, he was able to help us establish school policies that ensured a safe building while still maintaining student rights.”
Eterno added, “Eric was a staunch defender of the ability of the classroom teacher to have real autonomy in his or her classroom.”
Before teaching, Eric had a long career in environmental science. He worked for the Environmental Protection Agency on air pollution, as a meteorologist for NBC and as an air pollution scientist for Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering and design firm.
Eric earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Belknap College in New Hampshire and his master’s in meteorology at Polytechnic Institute in New York. He was a certified consulting meteorologist.
He enjoyed coaching youth sports teams in soccer, basketball and baseball. Among his other interests were science fiction and history.
Eric is survived by his wife, Fran; his sons, Bryan and Mark; his daughter, Marissa; his son-in-law, Kevin; his daughter-in-law, Rebecca; and his loving grandchildren, Owen, Alora and Sophie.
Condolences may be sent to the family at:
The Chasanoff Family
205 Marilyn St.
East Islip, NY 11730
In lieu of flowers, the family asks friends to consider donating in Eric’s memory to St. Jude Research Hospital.