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School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon

Honoring those ‘who run the schools’

Manhattan Secretary of the Year Adina Delgado (center, holding plaque) with her Jonathan FickiesManhattan Secretary of the Year Adina Delgado (center, holding plaque) with her colleagues from PS/IS 76 who came to support her and show their pride. honoring-those-who-run-the-schools-323-10Jonathan FickiesErica Stewart-Young from the Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery in Brooklyn accepts the Annette Carlucci Celebration of Life Award. Praised for her unionism and hardworking spirit, Erica Stewart-Young said that being honored with the Annette Carlucci Celebration of Life Award at the 29th annual School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon came as a shock.

Her activism began, she explained, when she first became the sole school secretary at the Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery in Brooklyn seven years ago. “I felt like a fish out of water,” she said.

She responded, however, by getting involved, partnering with other school secretaries and helping out “in whatever way” she could. She became the secretary coordinator for District 16 and a member of her chapter’s executive committee. She also joined the UFT African Heritage Committee and became a staffer for Dial-A-Teacher, the homework helpline for city students.

“I want to be a mouthpiece for all secretaries — honoring-those-who-run-the-schools-323-04Jonathan FickiesPatricia O’Reilly, of William E. Grady Career and Technical Education HS in Brooklyn, receives the Goldie Colodny Award from her former chapter leader, UFT President Michael Mulgrew. you know, we run the schools,” she said to laughter and applause as she received her award on May 16 at UFT headquarters.

Patricia O’Reilly, who received the Goldie Colodny Award for her dedication to problem solving at William E. Grady Career and Technical Education HS in Brooklyn, was the subject of glowing remarks from her former chapter leader at the school, UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

“I would not be the president of the UFT if I did not have you supporting me at our school,” he said, recalling that when he needed a secretary on the consultation committee, she joined and introduced many urgent issues.

O’Reilly also stepped up to assume responsibilities on her school leadership team, on the School Secretaries Chapter’s executive board, and as a delegate to both the UFT and its state affiliate, NYSUT.

In her welcoming remarks, Mona Gonzalez, the school secretaries chapter leader, reminded everyone that the UFT is “more than just a union.” honoring-those-who-run-the-schools-323-03Jonathan FickiesMiguel Negron, the District 75 School Secretary of the Year, with (from left) Wanda Guddemi of PS 811 in Brooklyn, School Secretaries Chapter Leader Mona Gonzalez and Judith Rodriguez of PS 35 in Manhattan. She made note of the money raised at the UFT’s recent 5K Family Run to benefit victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal, and urged attendees to “make this the year you become involved with the union.”

One by one, the honorees — one from each of the five boroughs and one from District 75 — rose to make a statement and revel in the appreciation of their peers, family and friends.

Miguel Negron, who works at the Manhattan School in District 75, said, “This is really a Kleenex moment” as he fought back tears. “In Sally Field’s words, ‘It’s a beautiful feeling to know that you love me, you really, really do.’”

He added, “Nothing is more gratifying than the smile of a child you comforted. That’s when you realize you did a good job and made a difference.”

The other honorees were Tracy Ortiz of the Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Academy: A College Board School in the Bronx; Leslie Harris of PS 345 in Brooklyn; Adina Delgado of PS/IS 76 in Manhattan; Dianne Archibald of PS 36 in Queens; and Michelle Schiefer of PS 55 on Staten Island, her alma mater.

The luncheon featured an impressive performance by the Columbus Campus Jazz Band, led by Pelham Preparatory Academy teacher Steven Oquendo. The band is composed of students from five schools on the Bronx campus who practice two hours a day, both during and after school — and it showed!

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