The 15th annual District 24 Scholarship Dinner Dance on April 24 continued its tradition of honoring outstanding teachers, students, paraprofessionals, principals and elected officials.
About 450 people helped to celebrate the achievements of the honorees at Russo’s on the Bay in Queens.
Michelle Sharabi, a 1st-grade teacher at PS 88, was singled out for her work in implementing the Safe and Caring Schools program at the school. The program incorporates social and emotional development into everyday lessons to build character and leadership qualities.
“It provides skills and strategies for children to face challenges,” Sharabi said. “It touches on conflict resolution, bullying and respecting each other, but also following your dreams.”
Teachers Kristine Leonardi at PS 89 and Diane Chiauzzi at PS 153 were recognized for 10 years of service as chapter leaders.
“There are so many good things to celebrate in our public schools, good things that go on every day,” Chiauzzi said about the evening.John Kamps, the District 24 paraprofessional coordinator, and Carol Rawcsak, a secretary at PS 229, were also honored. Indiana Soto, the PS 71 principal, got the nod for her leadership.
“Soto took over a demoralized staff and made them her partners in running the school,” said District 24 Representative Rosemary Parker. “They’re doing amazing things.”
Emma Camacho Mendez, the DOE/UFT liaison for special education, was honored for her work on behalf of public schools and unionism. Imani Pagan, a 5th-grader at PS 239, and Valentina Accardo, a 7th-grader at PS/IS 67, received awards for their community service.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm, the chair of the Council’s education committee, was recognized for his support of public education.
Peter Vercessi, the vice president of the district’s Community Education Council, was recognized for his dedication to children and staff, while Gloria Harris, the PTA president at PS 68, was honored for her work in encouraging parent involvement at the school.
The evening also included a surprise tribute to Linda Vila-Passione, the Queens UFT violence prevention facilitator, who is retiring this year.