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They were dressed to the nines, in satin and sequins and lace. The only thing that sparkled more than the outfits was their smiles when they spoke about their “kids.”
The UFT’s third annual Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony was held on May 13 at UFT headquarters in Manhattan to honor its members who teach the youngest learners.
“This ceremony is the best way to show providers how much they are valued by their peers and their union. The work they do every day is truly a labor of love,” said Tammie Miller, the chair of the UFT Family Child Care Providers Chapter.
Founders Award recipient Abe Levine — a former teacher and founding UFT officer — saluted them. “You are educators and you fit right into the UFT,” he said. “We are so proud of you as members because we know how important early childhood education is.”
Keynote speaker Grace Meng, a U.S. congresswoman from Queens and the mother of two boys in public schools, agreed. “The high level of care UFT members provide better prepares our children to enter school and to do well,” she told the 250 providers and their guests.
William and Margaret Mundy, recipients of the Exceptional Educator Award, run two child care programs on Staten Island. Margaret, a former account manager, and Bill, a former mechanic, opened Miz Margaret’s Family Day Care 16 years ago and have never looked back.
“It’s wonderful to see the learning process and the love,” Margaret says. Bill concurs, but adds a special benefit: He has the chance to be a male mentor.
Bill helps children overcome their fears, like fear of storms or getting dirty or bugs. He goes into the field behind Miz Margaret’s and collects spiders, garden snakes and worms. He puts them in bowls and lets the kids look and learn. He’ll stand by the window with them during a storm and teach them about thunder and lightning. “It’s a dimension I try to bring to the kids that they’re not normally exposed to,” Bill says.
Merit Award winner Cynthia Reed of Brooklyn supports families at the beginning of life and again at the end, as both an early child care educator for 22 years and a funeral director even longer. For her, it all comes down to different ways of celebrating life.
Anne Marie Joseph, another recipient of the Exceptional Educator Award and a Brooklyn provider for 17 years, gets emotional when she says the children bring out the best in her and she tries to bring out the best in them.
“I try to make a difference in their lives, mentally, physically and spiritually,” she says.
What is your favorite movie about a teacher?
Dead Poets Society
Stand and Deliver
Mr. Holland's Opus
Total votes: 642