2018 Student of the Year Awards
It seems fitting that the first blog post NYACCE puts out is focused on the one thing we all care most about: our students. As Co-chair of the Student of the Year committee, I am proud to share with you all highlights from this fun, emotional, and joyful event. However, before we get into that, I want to remind all NYACCE members reading this blog post that they have the opportunity to nominate an outstanding student from their programs. Any NYACCE member is welcome to nominate a student! You do not have to be a board member and your student does not need to be in a particular class. As long as you are a current NYACCE member, you are welcome- actually, encouraged- to nominate someone! Student of the Year is over for 2018, but we have already begun planning 2019! So please consider nominating a student for next year’s event. All current, former, and future students are eligible for nomination!
Now, why am I urging you so vehemently to nominate a student for Student of the Year? Quite simply, it is because this event is such an amazing experience- both for you and your student. On October 23rd and 24th, 2018, we welcomed 18 honorees from around New York State to the Century House Hotel in Latham, NY. Our awards ceremony was the first night. Honorees, their families, teachers, program managers, board members, NYSED officials, and others gather for a fancy buffet dinner and award presentations. This year, we were honored to have Deputy Commissioner Kevin Smith join us. Commissioner Smith warmly welcomed our awardees and took pictures with them. His continued support of NYACCE and our students is greatly appreciated. It is rare that Commissioner Smith misses this event because he, like everyone else in that room, is so proud of what these students have accomplished.
Chair Susan Diemert of Orleans/Niagara BOCES hosted the event. She shared an abridged version of each student’s narrative. Every student’s story was moving. The trials and tribulations these students overcame in pursuit of their educational goals is astonishing. They have endured unspeakable violence, persisted through debilitating chronic medical conditions, or navigated tumultuous routes to immigrate to the USA. I urge you to read their stories and be inspired. I love being a part of this event because it reminds me why we do what we do, and, more importantly, why our work is so valuable. In fact, our students are so impressive, Commissioner Elia’s office has been tweeting about our students and their journeys.
On our second day in Albany, awardees, their families and their teachers took a guided tour of the New York State Capitol Building.
Awardees and their teachers were urged to contact their NYS Assembly person and State Senator prior to their arrival in Albany. These legislative visits have been instrumental in securing continued funding for adult education programs. Our elected officials enjoy meeting our students and welcoming them to their offices! In the case below, Senator 62nd District Robert G. Ortt (right side) and Assembly member 145th Disrtict Angelo Morinello (left) visited Niagara County Students Dorothea McDonald and Jessica Fitzpatrick in their classroom.
All of our 2018 students’ narratives can be found on the NYACCE website by clicking here. Please take the time to read them and consider nominating a student for Student of the Year 2019. Next year’s event is on October 8 and 9, 2019 at the Century House Hotel in Latham, NY. Save the date!