School Secretaries Awards Soirée
School secretaries were honored with awards, flowers and festivities at the union’s School Secretaries Awards Soirée on June 2. The theme of the evening was resilience.
“Every day there are challenges, every day there are surprises,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew in his opening remarks at the event held at UFT headquarters in Manhattan. “We are truly honoring you because that’s what you deserve. Your jobs are not easy. You keep the schools running.”
More than 100 school secretaries, colleagues and family members were on hand to celebrate the evening’s 28 honorees from all five boroughs.
School Secretaries Chapter Leader Sheryl Pender spoke about the dedication of school secretaries to students and staff. “This night is important because it’s necessary to show our appreciation for people who matter this much in the school community,” she said.
Wanda Petty, a veteran school secretary who supports 11 District 75 sites under PS 138 in Manhattan, was honored with the Pinnacle Award for her service to the chapter as a union delegate and executive board member.
“She is an activist in the chapter and a fierce voice on the School Secretaries Chapter executive board,” said UFT Vice President Janella T. Hinds, the officer liaison to the School Secretaries Chapter. “Her voice has meant the world to the advocacy that’s being done for school secretaries all around New York City.”
Ann Gonzalez, a school secretary at PS 64 in Manhattan, was one of the evening’s 27 School Secretaries of the Year.
“Ann is punctual, responsible, friendly, nurturing, warm, charismatic. She is a phenomenal human being,” said Lillian Horton, an attendance teacher at MS 839, which is co-located with PS 64, who came out to support her friend and colleague.
Chapter Leader Sergio Zamora of PS 126 in the Bronx came out to cheer on his school secretary, Theresa Badamo, one of the other award-winners. “She’s there for everything and everyone. She’s amazing,” he said.
The evening included a brief memorial for Grace Marie Zarate, a school secretary at PS 70 in the Bronx and UFT member for over 25 years, who died in February.
The evening concluded on the dance floor, as the school secretaries came together for a line dance.
Pender made sure the school secretaries got the props they deserved: “The UFT sees and loves every single one of you,” she said.