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School Secretaries of the Year Awards

‘You are the glue that keeps schools together’
New York Teacher
Honorees at the School Secretary Awards Luncheon are joined onstage by UFT offic
Jonathan Fickies
Honorees at the School Secretary Awards Luncheon are joined onstage by UFT officers and staff.
Jose Vargas, the coordinator of special projects for the UFT, escorts Rita Segar
Jonathan Fickies
Jose Vargas, the coordinator of special projects for the UFT, escorts Rita Segarra, the school secretary at PS 66 in the Bronx, onto the stage to receive her award.

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.

The honorees

Secretaries of the Year: Miriam Lopez, Metropolitan HS, Bronx, Fran Schenk, HS for Youth and Community Development, Brooklyn, Elizabeth Cruz, PS 158, Bayard Taylor, Manhattan, Tina Marie Kendall, Townsend Harris HS, Queens, Kathryn Goffredo, IS 27, Anning S. Prall, Staten Island, Laura Beltram, New Directions Secondary School, District 79

Annette Carlucci Award: Patricia O’Reilly, William E. Grady CTE HS

Goldie Colodny Award: Rita Segarra, PS 66, School of Higher Expectations, Bronx

See more photos in the gallery »

Honoree Patricia O’Reilly, a secretary at William E. Grady Career and Technical
Jonathan Fickies
Honoree Patricia O’Reilly, a secretary at William E. Grady Career and Technical Education HS in Brooklyn, is flanked by School Secretary Chapter Leader Doreen Berrios-Castillo and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who was once her chapter leader.
Guests gather in Shanker Hall for the luncheon.
Jonathan Fickies
Guests gather in Shanker Hall for the luncheon.