"Jake [Jacob Scott] completely changed my life for the better. He put me on a straight path, and never let me go sideways." Jacob Scott coordinates the Student and Family Support Center at Edison and runs The Brotherhood support group for young men. A high point of the dinner at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center came when Mr. Jemmerson prepared the audience to hear Mr. Scott's acceptance of the award.
"When he speaks, you will be hearing a great man," he said.
Jacob Scott was one of seven award-winners to accept praise for their efforts in making a difference in the lives of Rochester's young people. He told the audience, "It takes the best in each of us to bring out the best in all of us."
Other award-winners included Estan and Lola Coan (Volunteer), the University of Rochester (Higher Education Partner), Amy Levine (Educator), Beth Mascitti-Miller (Educator), M&T Bank (Business) and the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (Making a Difference).
The event drew a wonderful collection of corporate sponsors and table sponsors, listed in the column to the left. Generous donors also enabled 22 city school students or parents to attend the event free of charge.
The evening started with a reception at which Eastman Pathways students provided musical entertainment. The Eastman Pathways program is an excellent program provided by the University of Rochester through which free musical instrument instruction is offered to talented students within the Rochester City School District. Rochester Education Foundation has proudly provided musical instruments for many Eastman Pathways program students through our Spring for Music program.
Board member and emcee Rodric Cox-Cooper then welcomed the attendees and introduced Rochester City School District (RCSD) Superintendent, Jean-Claude Brizard. Mr. Brizard thanked the honorees and Rochester Education Foundation for their outstanding service to Rochester school students. He said: "The level of support for the school district from this community is nothing short of overwhelming."
Mr. Cox-Cooper then introduced City of Rochester Chief of Staff Jean Howard. She noted that dinner sponsors are saving futures when they support important Rochester organizations like Rochester Education Foundation.
The awards were presented by Mr. Cox Cooper and Ms. Gaynelle Wethers, chair of the event for the third year in a row and an REF board member. Lola and Estan Coan were honored for their service as volunteers at School 25. Mr. Coan noted: "Lola and I started volunteering at School 25 because we thought it would be fun, and it has been fun! If it's been good for the students, so much the better." Mr. and Ms. Coan are both graduates of Franklin High School. Mr. Coan, a retired Wegmans pharmacist, was supported by many of his former Wegmans colleagues at the event.
The University of Rochester was honored for its targeted scholarship programs for Rochester City School district graduates, beginning with the scholarship program for graduates of the Wilson International Baccalaureate program and continuing with the addition of the Rochester Promise Initiative, for which any Rochester city school graduate meeting admission standards is eligible. Wilson Graduate Wanda Perez-Diaz thanked the University of Rochester for the scholarship program making it possible for her to attend the University of Rochester on a combined undergraduate-medical school track. Mr. Jonathan Burdick, Dean of Admissions, accepted the award. He noted, "We do it for people like Wanda, and future Wandas!"
Amy Levine, a teacher in the Rochester Parent Preschool Program since 1995, was praised by parent Marci Weber, who noted that Ms. Levine was an excellent teacher whose careful attention to her two children was a model for educators. Ms. Levine noted: "I want to thank the children who bring me smiles, laughter and unending curiosity."
Beth Mascitti-Miller, principal of World of Inquiry School, was praised for her hard work, her encouragement of students, and even for her sharp attire by 7th grader Nicole Santiago-Gibson, who wrote a poem about her principal. Ms. Mascitti-Miller, who led World of Inquiry to a National Excellence In Urban Education award in 2009, stressed the importance of working with the entire school community to promote success. "The school motto at School 58 is 'Crew, not passengers.' This award is for you, the crew."
M&T Bank was represented by Malik Evans, an assistant vice president for M&T and city school graduate who serves as president of the Rochester City School Board. The company was honored for its Literacy for Life partnerships at Schools 8 and 20, for its philanthropic focus on education, and for its support of city students through philanthropy and personal volunteer engagement.
Finally, the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession program, offered by the Rochester chapter of the New York Society of Certified Public Accountants, was praised for the benefits it offers to urban youth. The program includes a summer camp at SUNY Brockport through which students are introduced to the accounting profession; and a mentoring program of students following their participation in the camp. Speaker Brittany Daniel, a graduate of Edison who currently attends SUNY Brockport, noted, "Before I went to camp, I didn't know what a CPA was. I left camp knowing that I wanted to be a CPA." Antoinette "Toni" Spina, chair of the local COAP program, noted the joy of working with young people and seeing them succeed as a result of the program and the strong relationships built through the engagement of local volunteers.
The dinner was planned by REF committee members Gaynelle Wethers (chair), Pat Braus, Ed Cavalier, Rodric Cox-Cooper, Jeannine Dingus, Jane Lange, Stephany Moore and Nan Westervelt.
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