Before a sell-out crowd of more than 450 guests, 14 outstanding individuals received the Nassau BOCES "Education Partner" award during a gala dinner at the Woodbury Country Club. Hailed as education's answer to the "Oscars," this award recognizes those whose impact on public education in Nassau County can be measured in tangible ways.
Assemblyman Tom Alfano
A strategic education partner with school districts since 1967, Nassau BOCES chose this innovative program to mark its 40th anniversary and pay tribute to those who share its commitment to providing the best possible education to learners of all ages and abilities.
The 14 honorees include Thomas Alfano, New York State assemblyman, along with Sr. Mairead M. Barrett, founder and board member of New Ground, Inc.; Frederick W. Breithut, founder and president, School-Business Partnerships of Long Island Inc., and founder and president of Long Island FIRST Robotics Program; Dr. Constance R. Clark, superintendent, Westbury Public Schools; Lorraine Deller, executive director, Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association; George Farber, president, Board of Cooperative Educational Services of Nassau County;
Dr. Charles Fowler, president, School Leadership, LLC; Dr. Mary Ellen Freeley, superintendent of schools, Malverne Union Free School District; Michael Keany, director, Long Island School Leadership Center; Andrew Joseph Koslosky, chairman of the board, The Josephine Foundation; Vincent J. La Sala, executive administrator, retired, Nassau BOCES; Dr. Henry Teoh, distinguished service professor, State University of New York - College at Old Westbury; Gloria Virgile, executive director, What Color Is Love, Inc.; and John G. Waffenschmidt, vice president-business development, Covanta Energy Corporation.
During the awards gala, Arline Strumeyer, Nassau BOCES district clerk, made the following remarks about Thomas W. Alfano: "Some say that it's 'what's in the heart' that defines the measure of a man. Others say the 'lasting measure of a man is what his actions say about him.' When it comes to our first honoree, Thomas Alfano, we are proud to say that both are true. Tom Alfano is a New York State assemblyman for the 21st District on Long Island. Tom was nominated for our 'Education Partner' Award by a very large and diverse group of people, including the president of the black student union, the financial secretary of the Elmont Cardinal sports team, an assistant superintendent in Franklin Square, a former superintendent of the Elmont School District, a school principal, a teacher and several local residents, to name a few.
"The common thread woven through all of the nominations is that Tom Alfano cares. He is committed and passionate about his public service, and can be counted on to partner with our schools to get things done. Tom is often called 'The People's Politician.' He is a 'visible' representative - one who spends his professional and personal time with the people he was elected to serve. He is an approachable, caring representative - one who believes in opening doors and bringing forth new opportunities.
"And to quote one of his constituents, 'His commitment to young people is legendary. Through his actions, he shows them that politicians aren't far away and untouchable; rather they are people just like us who have dedicated their lives to making a difference.'
"A passionate advocate for public education, Tom takes genuine pride in the successes of the students he serves. One look at his record tells you that he works hard on behalf of our schools - whether it's sponsoring a bill that prohibits the sale of candy cigarettes to minors ... or establishing the 'successful schools' and 'schools of tomorrow' awards programs... or ensuring that after-school program contracts be awarded equally among downstate counties.
"Tom Alfano has worked hard to earn his reputation as a friend of public education and we are proud to honor him in this inaugural year of our 'Education Partner' Awards program. Ladies and gentlemen please join us in a salute to a 'Man of the People' - Assemblyman Thomas Alfano."
Dr. James Mapes, Nassau BOCES district superintendent, noted, "At Nassau BOCES, we put great emphasis on partnerships. We knew that any awards program we created had to represent the Nassau BOCES brand - it had to be inclusive of people from all walks of life and include opportunities to pay tribute to those who best represent educational partnerships.
"Tonight we honor 14 outstanding individuals - people judged to represent the best in education partnerships... people who share our commitment to providing the best possible education to learners of all ages and abilities," he continued. "Individually and collectively, they have had a powerful and measurable influence on public education in this county - and we are grateful for their extraordinary efforts."
Nassau BOCES "Education Partners" were chosen from a pool of more than 140 nominations. They were judged by a committee of distinguished educators and community leaders looking for individuals who personified the spirit of educational partnerships and/or demonstrated measurable impact on public education in Nassau County.
The inaugural Nassau BOCES "Education Partner" Awards Gala was sponsored by the Nassau BOCES Educational Foundation, a non-profit, community-based organization charged with acquiring and distributing funds to enhance educational opportunities for students attending or taking part in Nassau BOCES schools, services or programs.
The evening's festivities commenced with a cocktail hour, which was immediately followed by a formal dinner. Carlyn Connolly, a student at the Nassau BOCES Cultural Arts Center, performed a moving rendition of God Bless America.
After dinner, guests were ushered to a theatre-style room where families, friends and guests viewed an inspiring video featuring each honoree speaking about his or her role in public education. Honorees were then presented with a gold award inscribed with "Nassau BOCES Education Partner" and their individual names by Nassau BOCES board members.