Read more about our 2012 Award Winners below:
John C. Rennie Volunteer of the Year Award
Kellyanne Dignan is the Associate Vice President & Director of Training at Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, a large strategic communications and public affairs firm. She is a math mentor through Boston Partners in Education’s School Volunteer Program at the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury. She began in March of the last school year, acting as a math tutor and mentor to three students in a fifth-grade class. She has continued this work by mentoring three new students in the same classroom, supporting them both academically and socially.
In addition to her direct work in the classroom, Ms. Dignan has shown immense dedication to the mission of Boston Partners in Education. She has quickly become one of our most tireless advocates, promoting our work and various donation opportunities to her networks. She has written about her experiences in the classroom, touching on the need for community members to give their time to the Boston Public Schools – and included a direct call for action. Ms. Dignan understands the work of our organization, and has communicated that concept effectively to large groups of people who would otherwise never hear about Boston Partners in Education and its work.
Isabel G. Besecker Award
Simon Ho is a native of Hong Kong, China, where he completed his secondary education. Mr. Ho came to Boston to pursue his college education. He attended Northeastern University and received his undergraduate and Master degrees in Economics. He has been an educator for nearly three decades.
Upon graduation Mr. Ho was hired as a Bilingual Chinese teacher. Devoted to his teaching, Mr. Ho sought ways to expand the reach of his skills and talents. He reasoned that as a school administrator he could use his teaching experiences, his language skills, and his cultural background to benefit his school and decided to pursue a degree in Educational Administration. Shortly after receiving his degree Mr. Ho was appointed principal of the Curtis Guild School in East Boston.
After 18 years, Mr. Ho agreed to leave his beloved Curtis Guild School for the new challenges awaiting him at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. This is where Mr. Ho developed a relationship with Boston Partners in Education; our organization had been present at the Quincy School for over 20 years. He welcomed the partnership and has helped it to grow and flourish over the past three years.
Nicholas A. Lopardo Corporate Partner Award
Founded in 1981 in Boston, Genzyme Corporation has become one of the world’s leading biotech companies, with nearly 10,000 employees and operations in every region of the globe. Acquired by Sanofi in 2011, Genzyme now benefits from the reach and resources of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, with a shared commitment to improving the lives of patients. In addition to their contributions to the world of biotechnology, Genzyme is committed to being involved in their community and creating partnerships that are mutually beneficial.
For 11 years, Genzyme has participated in Power Lunch at the Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA) in Allston. Unlike many other corporations, Genzyme’s volunteer program is entirely employee-initiated. The 2011-2012 academic year has been exemplary, as they have nearly doubled their involvement. Currently, there are fourteen employees mentoring 12 first through third grade students at GPA. Genzyme’s volunteers have gone above and beyond in their support of mentoring by attending Boston Partners in Education’s events and organizing a team for the Power Lunch “Read-a-Thon,” our program-centric fundraising initiative.
Pamela L. Trefler School Partner Award
Boston International High School
Boston International High School is a small school for students in grades 9–12 who are not yet proficient in the English language. Students represent more than 25 different countries, and many have recently arrived in the United States. Most of the students come from low-income families, and their literacy skills are often weak, since the countries they come from don’t have strong educational systems. Headmaster Nicole Bahnam describes her students as “young people who believe in the American Dream and are hungry for learning.”
Boston International is a strong school partner because the students are eager to be matched with volunteer academic mentors to receive extra one-on-one attention as they prepare for their classes and MCAS exams. The staff and administration at the school are equally invested in our programs, particularly the headmaster, Nichole Bahnam. Her hope is that next year even more students are able to be matched with volunteers to help them work toward making their dreams, especially those of receiving a high school diploma, come true.
Betsy A. Nelson Educator of the Year Award
Lai Lai Sheung
Lai Lai Sheung teaches third grade at the Quincy Elementary School in Chinatown. A teacher for the past 29 years, Ms. Sheung graduated high school in Hong Kong and made her way to Tufts University in Somerville where she studied biology and geology. After graduation she taught in a classroom and enjoyed the experience. From there she attended UMASS-Boston and got her M.Ed. in Bilingual Education.
Since then, she’s been teaching reading, writing, math, science and social studies to English Language Learners. For several years she has relied on Boston Partners in Education’s volunteer academic mentors to help her assist her students in achieving academically. This year, she has students matched with volunteers in all three programs – Power Lunch, Math Rules! and the School Volunteer Program.
Joyna Bozzotto Award
Nancy O’Hara retired from being a teacher and librarian in the Boston Public Schools after a 36 year career. A long-time resident of Brighton, she has always been very involved in her community. In 2005, she happened to meet the headmaster of a local school, Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA). The headmaster encouraged Ms. O’Hara to get involved with the school and suggested a tutoring program known as Aim High, part of Boston Partners in Education’s School Volunteer Program. Ms. O’Hara not only got involved but became one of the school’s most dedicated volunteers. She currently tutors and mentors three 10th grade students in English Language Arts, helping them to prepare for the MCAS exam, a graduation requirement.
Joyna Bozzotto Award
Ellen Stone brings an array of educational and professional experiences to her exemplary volunteer services as an Aim High tutor at Boston Community Leadership Academy. Growing up in England, Ellen was privileged to have a traditional grammar school education. It was in her youth that she found a real joy in math. As result, in college in the United States, Ellen majored in mathematics at the University of Rochester. From there, she pursued her studies in graduate school, and received a PhD in Mathematics. In semi-retirement now, Ellen took the opportunity to use her experiences to serve as an Aim High tutor.
Since 2005, Ellen has shared her knowledge and expertise in mathematics with her students at BCLA. As a volunteer involved in this program for seven years, Ellen is a big part of the reason this program continues to be successful today.
Boston Partners in Education Family Engagement Award
Patricia Emery is a Boston native and a proud graduate of Boston Latin School. Ms. Emery currently works in payroll at Bright Horizons and lives in Allston with her two sons, Michael and James, who attend the Gardner Pilot Academy. Ms. Emery’s two eldest daughters are also both graduates of the Gardner and attended Boston Public Schools throughout their school careers.
Ms. Emery is a familiar face at the Gardner, and an active parent in every sense of the word, attending school events and supporting the school in many roles, including on the parent council. A self-proclaimed “book person” and library advocate, Ms. Emery has truly enjoyed supporting her son’s participation in Power Lunch. She feels fortunate that her sons attend such a great school that offers them so many opportunities.