Sixth Annual Partnership Awards Dinner, 2011
Student George Moses Jr. spoke in admiration of Dr. Larry Ellison, winner of REF's Educator Award.
Sixth grader George Moses, Jr. was serious in his praise of Dr. Larry Ellison.
"He is one of the best principals in the world," the young Mr. Moses told the audience of 270 people October 12, 2011. He noted that Dr. Ellison always speaks in a calm voice, and encourages every student to read."
Dr. Larry Ellison was one of six honorees to receive awards at the REF Partnership Awards Dinner.
For his part, Educator Award winner Dr. Ellison proclaimed that "I love what I do... I love interacting with staff members and our students."
Other honorees were Merrill Mey and Elizabeth Schindler (Educator Awards), ESL Federal Credit Union (National Academy Foundation Business Award), Rob and Priscilla Brown (Making a Difference Award) and Dr. Naomi Erdmann (Lifetime Commitment to Children and Education Award).
ESL Federal Credit Union
Karen Davis of ESL Federal Credit Union gets a hug from Cortez Jones. Now an assistant manager for ESL, Mr. Jones was an East High junior when he went to work for ESL as an intern through the National Academy Foundation program.
A city school graduate who was taken under the wing of ESL in his junior year of high school spoke on behalf of this award winner.
When Cortez Jones met Karen Davis of ESL Federal Credit Union, he was a junior at East High School with no banking experience. Then he was hired as part of the National Academy Foundation summer jobs internship program to work at ESL. Eight years later, he is an assistant manager at the Genesee branch of ESL Federal Credit Union.
"Had it not been for the leadership of Karen and the National Academy Foundation committee, I would not be here today," said Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones worked at ESL throughout the rest of high school, through college at SUNY Geneseo, and after graduating college, all under the leadership of Karen Davis, ESL vice president and director of branches for the company.
Ms. Davis noted: "He's an extension of my family... We've been working together for eight years. I see a bright future for him at ESL."
Merril Mey and Elizabeth Schindler
Teacher Merrill Mey, second from right, received REF's Educator Award. She is flanked here by emcee and REF board member Rod Cox Cooper, speaker Jayda Avery, and speaker T'Mia Kitchings.
Teacher Merrill Mey received an Educator Award for her noteworthy work as a literacy educator at School 16. Ms. Mey and teacher Elizabeth Schindler of School 43 were both selected after REF volunteers saw them in action. Ms. Mey and Ms. Schindler were rated in the top 10 in a pool of 149 applicants to REF's Teachers' Choice program.
As part of their awards, Ms. Mey and Ms. Schindler will each receive up to 200 new books to conduct literacy projects again this school year.
"I am very lucky to spend my days helping students reach their full potential," Ms. Mey said. She discussed her experience receiving 100 books from REF through its Teachers' Choice program. "As a teacher in the city, sometimes you don't have the resources to complete a certain activity. But thanks to the Rochester Education Foundation I was able to provide my students with a rich literary experience."
Student Anthony Short recognized the deep caring he found in his teacher, award-winner Elizabeth Schindler.
Student Anthony Short praised Ms. Elizabeth Schindler's teaching, her caring, and the way she kept in touch. "Mrs. Schindler communicated weekly with my grandmother."
Ms. Schindler discussed her project through which members of the community came in to talk about books with students in literature circles. "The students learned that reading should not be something you have to do, but something you love to do."
Rob and Priscilla Brown
Honorees Rob and Priscilla Brown.
Rob and Priscilla Brown were honored for their service to city students through the Rob Brown Fund, a philanthropic effort founded 20 years ago at East High after the death of their son, Robert Elliott Brown III, while a student at the school. Michael Reyes, one of many recipients of the fund, spoke at the dinner. Mr. Reyes is currently studying at the University of Rochester. His support from the fund included receiving help purchasing a trumpet which he named Sylvia -- and which enabled him to excel. "You guys gave me an opportunity better than any monetary value."
Mr. Brown noted that the fund has enabled the "village" of this community to help raise many children at East High School.
Dr. Naomi Erdmann
Dr. Naomi Erdmann, winner of REF's Lifetime Commitment to Children and Education Award.
Dr. Naomi Erdmann received the Lifetime Commitment to Children and Education Award. Her introducer, Annette Moscato, called her "an educational hero whose commitment to children has been unwavering."
Attendees at the dinner heard Dr. Erdmann talk about her love of children, her commitment to looking at children positively in terms of what they have Ð not what they lack, and her passion for education.
She talked about many of the children she has worked with, including children who were deeply embarrassed about their academic limitations. She spoke of the need to give children tools to succeed and advised the group to "remember what it feels like to be embarrassed in front of your peers."
to see more photos from the event. (All photos courtesy of Edwin Lopez-Soto)
All of the honorees received a glass apple created by Rochester artist Elizabeth Lyons.
Our valued sponsors for the dinner are listed to the left of this story.
REF also thanks Antithesis Advertising for the invitation design, Rochester City School District and Lori Mulhern for the program and audio visual assistance, Maria Richart for the centerpieces and slide show, and Edwin Lopez-Soto for the photography.