School secretaries received a grand bouquet of compliments at their 33rd annual School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon on June 15.
“You are the glue that keeps schools together, always there and taking care of things,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in his opening remarks at union headquarters in Manhattan.
Chapter Leader Franco Scardino called School Secretary of the Year Tina Marie Kendall, a secretary at Townsend Harris HS in Queens for 18 years, “the most consistently active chapter member and the most valuable member of the consultation committee.”
“She’s the mother of the school,” was how Bronx Borough Representative Mary Atkinson summed up School Secretary of the Year Laura Beltram’s work as secretary at New Directions Secondary School in Claremont Village.
“She’s the best,” is the way her principal described School Secretary of the Year Elizabeth Cruz of PS 158 on the Upper East Side, a 28-year veteran. “Go see Lizzie, if you’ve got a question,” added UFT District 2 Representative Jessica Harvey.The luncheon was a festive affair attended by more than 100 colleagues and family members of the eight award winners.
“I’ve seen what we can accomplish when we work together as a team through our union,” said School Secretaries Chapter Leader Doreen Berrios-Castillo after congratulating this year’s award winners.
At the preluncheon reception, Betsy Perez, a veteran payroll secretary at the Queens HS of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences, and Wendi Allocca, a payroll secretary for four years at the School of Cooperative Technical Education in Manhattan, recalled how they met at a functional chapter weekend organized by the UFT in March. They have kept in touch since.“I’m learning, so when I’m not sure, I get in touch and she helps me,” Allocca explained. “It’s nice to have someone outside your school to turn to, and Betsy’s been an amazing help.”
In the background, the Jazz Ensemble from Brooklyn HS of the Arts, under the direction of teacher Beavin Lawrence, added a sophisticated musical note.
In accepting the Goldie Colodny Award, the event’s highest honor, Rita Segarra, a secretary at PS 66 in Morrisania, the Bronx, thanked the union for “everything you do for us.” The UFT, she said, “is a union of fighters who never give up.”
Mulgrew spoke of all the help he received from Patricia O’Reilly, the winner of the Annette Carlucci Celebration of Life Award, when he was the chapter leader and she was the secretary at William E. Grady Career and Technical Education HS in Brooklyn.
“She is a gift to the people at her school, a gift to the UFT and a gift to me personally,” he said.