News stories

School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon

‘Excellent jugglers who never drop the ball’

Posing with UFT President Michael Mulgrew and School Secretaries Chapter Leader Miller Photography

Posing with UFT President Michael Mulgrew and School Secretaries Chapter Leader Mona Gonzalez (standing, third from right) and chapter Second Vice Chair Rita Prior (standing, second from right) are award winners (seated, from left) Wanda Guddemi, Loren Lee, Joslie Byrd, Janice Fenton and Paula Morrison, and (standing, from left) Angela Benincasa, Carol Marzano, Doreen Berrios-Castillo and Anna Olshow.

Attendees strain to get photos of the honorees. Miller Photography

Attendees strain to get photos of the honorees.

Steven Oquendo (standing) and the Pelham Preparatory Jazz Band provided the day’ Miller Photography

Steven Oquendo (standing) and the Pelham Preparatory Jazz Band provided the day’s entertainment.

Being a school secretary often means doing more than handling payroll, supporting the administration, finding substitute teachers and fielding phone calls. For UFT members like Joslie Byrd of the School for Tourism and Hospitality in the Bronx, it means working in different capacities with the students.

“I do whatever I can to get involved and help the kids,” she said at the 30th annual School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon on May 14 at UFT headquarters.

Byrd, the Bronx Secretary of the Year, regularly attended the student basketball games in a previous job at the Business of Sports School in Manhattan. After moving to her current job, she became the assistant coach of the boys’ basketball team and the coach of the school step team. She now runs a women’s discussion class and a college and career class as well.

“Getting involved helps create a family atmosphere, which helps the children who don’t have much parental guidance,” Byrd said.

Byrd was among nine school secretaries honored at the awards luncheon for their contributions to their school and their union chapter.

“It’s great to take this opportunity to recognize all that school secretaries do,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the nearly 200 celebrants. “Not everyone understands the complications that occur in these schools like the secretaries do.”

Doreen Berrios-Castillo received the Goldie Colodny Award, the day’s highest honor. Berrios-Castillo worked for 21 years as a school secretary in Manhattan’s District 4 and now is the secretary for the UFT’s Victim Support Program.

Paula Morrison, who received the Annette Carlucci Celebration of Life Award, is the payroll secretary at PS 46 in Brooklyn and served as the school’s chapter leader for nine years. She is now a member of the School Secretary Chapter’s Executive Committee.

Shanker Hall was packed for the event.Miller PhotographyShanker Hall was packed for the event.

“Secretaries run the school,” said Queens Secretary of the Year Angela Benincasa of PS/MS 207. “We’re excellent jugglers who never drop the ball.”

Among the ways she supports her school, Benincasa has been producing the school’s yearbook on her own for the last three years.

Wanda Guddemi, the Secretary of the Year for District 75, previously worked at Bellevue Hospital in the Department of Child Psychiatry. Now, she works at P811 in Brooklyn, serving junior high and high school students.

“Working in a school is more hands-on,” Guddemi noted. “At the hospital, most of the interaction was between staff members. You get to learn more about the children while working in the schools.”

Chapter Leader Mona Gonzalez underscored the important rights and protections that union membership bestows on school secretaries.

“The honorees have demonstrated their belief in public education and support for the UFT through their activism and dedication,” she said. “We are proud to have this opportunity to recognize them.”

See more photos in the gallery »

User login
Enter the email address you used to sign up at UFT.org.
 
If you don't have a UFT.org profile, please sign up.
Forgot your password?