Students of Long Island Lutheran High School danced the night away at their senior prom Thursday evening at Chateau Briand in Carle Place.
While the class of 2016 stepped onto the dance floor to shake off their final days of high school and spend an unforgettable night with their friends, perhaps the most popular dance partner of the night was the school’s beloved physics teacher, 80-year-old Audrey Hebling.
Hebling, wearing a teal dress with a shimmering silver shawl and crystal-encrusted glasses, had no trouble keeping up with her teenage students, who are in awe of her thirst for knowledge and life.
Hebling, who is known affectionately as Doc, has been teaching at Long Island Lutheran for the past 20 years, underwent open-heart surgery two years ago.
But one would never know it while watching her boogie down alongside her pupils.
“I love to dance,” she said with a bright smile after taking a few of her students for a spin around the dance floor.
Even more impressive than Hebling’s quick feet is her diverse and extensive career.
Having gone to Barbizon modeling school and booking a number of advertisements in her early years, she initially considered a career in fashion. However, when Hebling was told she didn’t meet the height requirements for runway modeling, and instead could appear in advertisements for household items like refrigerators, Hebling closed the door on the industry, and entered the sciences instead.
She earn her doctorate and became one of the first women to work for the Sperry Gyroscope Corp., where she was involved in projects like building NASA satellites and creating crystals for broadcast television.
“She is a great woman and a great teacher. She puts the material on your level, but doesn’t dumb it down,” said Ethan Beauman, 18, who is the last of six siblings to attend Long Island Lutheran. “I’m going to miss her.”
Junior Andrew White, 16, who has known Hebling since he was a young camper at the school’s summer program, said that he remembers the days when the physics teacher would be the one he would go to tie his shoes.
From teaching her students how to pull their laces tight to explaining nuclear reactions, the school’s students made it clear how much of an impact Hebling has had on him.
“She’s always been there for us. She’s the sweetest, kindest person,” White said. “She’s awesome.”
Hebling said that prom is bittersweet as she watches her students move on to the next chapter of their lives.
“My favorite is when they come back to visit,” she said.