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Rochester Education Foundation:  Because every child deserves a great education.
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A Toast to REF—And Our Partners 2015:
Celebrating 10 Years

At Rochester Education Foundation's 10th annual recognition event "A Toast to REF—And Our Partners" Oct. 28 at the Memorial Art Gallery, friends of REF took a moment to recognize a person who has been dedicated to providing opportunity for Rochester city school children for more than 10 years, REF founder and Executive Director Pat Braus. In a surprise presentation, Board of Directors chair George Tsanis awarded Ms. Braus the REF Founder's Award.

Pat Braus and George Tsanis
REF Executive Director Pat Braus receives the REF Founder's Award from Board Chair George Tsanis and the REF Board of Directors.

By way of introduction, he said: "In celebration of our 10th anniversary, the Rochester Education Foundation Board of Directors wants to recognize someone who has made this 10-year journey possible... It is with great pleasure that the Board would like to publically recognize, and thank our Executive Director, Pat Braus, for her vision, her leadership and her unwavering dedication to city school children. Pat, please accept this REF Founder's Award with our deepest admiration."

Mr. Tsanis also announced that beginning in 2016, the REF Board of Directors will give an annual Patricia Braus Founder's Award Scholarship to a city school district high school senior who has provided extraordinary service to his or her school or to the community, a scholarship that reflects the values of Rochester Education Foundation and its executive director. The scholarship will be called the Pat Braus Founder's Award Scholarship.

Adam Chodak
Adam Chodak, Anchor and Managing Editor for WROC-TV News 8, served as Emcee at "A Toast to REF—And Our Partners 2015."

"A Toast to REF—and Our Partners" was a festive celebration this year that not only recognized champions of city students but also reflected on REF's accomplishments during its first decade. In honor of REF's 10th anniversary, Antithesis Advertising produced a video, highlighting the opportunities that REF has given to city students. The video premiered at the event, but you can see it now by clicking here.

Adam Chodak, anchor and managing editor at News 8 WROC-TV, was emcee for the evening, introducing our award winners and graciously keeping the evening's festivities on task. In addition to Ms. Braus, REF recognized three more champions of city students.

Jay Piper and Ibrahima Bah
Jay B. Piper, principal at The Children's School of Rochester No. 15, receives a World's Best Dad plaque from former student Ibrahima Bah.

The first award winner recognized was The Children's School of Rochester principal Jay B. Piper who was given the REF 2015 Educator Award. Mr. Piper was saluted for his leadership at The Children's School and throughout the district. In his introduction of Mr. Piper, Mr. Chodak quoted teacher Telesta Featherstun Rice: "Mr. Piper is the consummate educator. He has established a viable rapport with each student and their family. He regularly makes home visits. Students often join him for lunch, to discuss their day, to work through the vicissitudes of life and to celebrate their accomplishments. He is highly regarded in the community. His support of teachers and staff is equal to the support that is given to the students."

George Tsanis and Carmen Allen
REF Board Chair George Tsanis presented the REF 2015 Business Partner Award to Carmen Allen, Vice President for Human Resources, Harris Corporation.

In an unplanned testimonial, Mr. Piper's former student, Ibrahima Bah, who had Mr. Piper as a teacher while in high school spoke briefly of the guidance and mentoring provided to him by Mr. Piper. Mr. Bah came to this country as a refugee from Sierra Leone. He lost many family members before coming to this country, including his father. Despite the challenges he had to face, he graduated high school and college, and is now a graduate student at the University of Rochester. He credited Mr. Piper with his achievements and gave him a plaque that said: "To the World's Greatest Dad."

Our 2015 Business Partner Award was given to Harris Corporation. Harris Corporation was recognized for its work with city students at Edison and Wilson High Schools, in particular, its internships and mentoring programs. Carmen Allen, Vice President for Human Resources at Harris, accepted the award on behalf of her team. She credited her colleagues with caring deeply about the success of students in this community.

Leon France
Leon France graciously accepted the Advantage Federal Credit Union Inspire Award on behalf of his wife, Cheri' France, music teacher at The Children's School of Rochester No. 15.

Our last award recipient was music teacher Cheri' France who was awarded the Advantage Federal Credit Union Inspire Award. Ms. France was recognized for her dedication to teaching music to city students for the past 20 years at The Children's School of Rochester. One of her students said of her: "I love Mrs. France because she helps us sing and dance... Mrs. France has the smartest brain in the world." She is definitely beloved by her students, their parents, and her colleagues. Unfortunately, Ms. France had emergency surgery the week before this event. Accepting on behalf was her husband, Leon France. Mr. France acknowledged his wife's role in his remarks, saying, "Like the good teacher Cheri' is, she prepared my remarks carefully, including italics, underlines and punctuation remarks." Mr. France said that the students his wife teaches are her inspiration, and that she feels blessed to work with some of the most talented and creative people on the planet.

Guests at the 10-year celebration in the Cutler Union at the Memorial Art Gallery enjoyed a silent auction featuring high-end items like 5 nights in NYC, restaurant and spa gift baskets, and music played by city school educators Steve Copeland, Vito Cricati and Greg Detwiler. Max's catered the evening.

Thanks to all of our sponsors, guests and volunteers who made this evening memorable!

George Tsanis and Pat Braus congratulate representatives of the Youth Apprenticeship Program of Rochester General Hospital
Recipient of the REF 2015 Business Partner Award, the Harris Corporation team poses with their award. Left to right: Pat Pendell, Tiana Adams-Hawkins, Carmen Allen, Adam Perry, Lisa Perticone, Corey Casher and Diana Solt.
Photo album: click here
Click here to see more photos from the event.
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