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Awards & Honors

Daniel Dromm Scholarship ceremony

Honoring ‘limitless’ potential
New York Teacher
Daniel Dromm

City Councilmember Daniel Dromm (top) presents the Bayard Rustin Political Activism Award to Melissa Sklarz, the senior government relations strategist for SAGE, an agency serving the elderly LGBTQ community.

The UFT Pride Committee honored five high school students with $1,000 scholarships at its third Daniel Dromm Scholarship ceremony, held virtually on June 5.

“These students have committed themselves to their studies while advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community, and we’re here today to invest in their future,” said Rashad Brown, the committee’s chair.

City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the scholarship’s namesake, noted that having the support of the UFT was a “big factor” in his decision to come out when he was a teacher.

“When I was a young person in high school, I thought I was the only one who was gay, and it was a lonely and scary time,” he said. “I’m so glad these kids have the kind of support I wish I had had.”

Each student was introduced by one of their teachers. Rachel Gorman, an English teacher at Gregorio Luperon HS in Washington Heights, called her student Jennipher Restituyo an “enthusiastic, dedicated and passionate” founding member of the school’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance Club. “I hope this scholarship continues to remind her of her commitment to her values and the amazing things she’s done,” she said.

Other scholarships went to Christine Cabusay, a student at Stuyvesant HS in lower Manhattan; Nikoloz Tevdoradze, a student at Origins HS in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; Rachel Chai, a student at Townsend Harris HS in Flushing, Queens; and Victoria Cornejo, a student at Bard Early College HS in Long Island City, Queens.

The Pride Committee’s GSA of the Year Award went to PS 290 in Maspeth, Queens, where students in the “Rainbow Casters” club conducted a book audit to encourage more inclusivity among books in classroom libraries.

Tamika Tolliver, a UFT Teacher Center coach, received the committee’s Daniel Dromm Educator of the Year Award.

“I believe each child’s potential is limitless if they have the space and place to be their true selves,” she said.

The Pride Committee also presented its Vanguard Award to the membership of Drag Queen Story Hour, an organization that presents read-alouds to children in libraries and other community events. The first Lifetime Achievement Award went to retired teacher Frank Carucci, who lived next to the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan and helped patrons escape arrest on the night of the riot in June 1969 that launched the gay rights movement.