"Most Improved High School" went to Boys and Girls High School
Education is the most powerful weapon.
Those were the opening remarks of Community Board 3's Chair Richard Flateau on Thursday, during Bed-Stuy's Best inaugural award ceremony. The event, initiated by the board's Education and Youth Committee, gathered the community to honor Bedford-Stuyvesant's principals, teachers, students, parents and others that support an environment that makes learning possible.
"You educate and set the bar for the future," said Flateau in his address. "If we had more people like you in our community, we wouldn't have a lot of the issues we see in our community."
Last spring, in an effort to identify and celebrate the members of the community that center safety, the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence amongst the youth, the committee created a nomination process reaching out to local residents-- from principals and school leaders, to engaged citizens. From the initial 90 nominations across a wide array of "Of The Year" categories that were submitted, the committee narrowed the selection to three finalists for each category. A week-long online public vote followed, and the response exceeded the committee's expectations: More than 3,500 ballots were cast!
"You are proof of what a community can do when we come together," said Stefanie Zinerman, chief of staff of Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy.
At total of 20 awards were presented in categories such as "Humble Humanitarians" and "Incredible Improvement," recognizing outstanding students for both their academic achievements as well as their extraordinary personalities. Parents were given special appreciation for their engagement with the "Parent Leader of the Year" award.
Oma Holloway, chair of the Education and Youth Committee, and Shelton Jones, representative for the District Attorney's office, presented the "Safety Awards," honoring crossing guards and school safety teams for their dedicated and important work.
"Crossing guards, people who we often overlook and whose names we may not even know, we see them out there every day, making sure our children are safe. We want to thank them and recognize them for the important job they do daily," said Holloway.
In addition to elementary and middle school teachers and principals, the schools also were recognized for their overall performance in the category "School Improvement." Zinerman, who presented the award "Most Improved High School" to Boys and Girls High School K455, acknowledged the school's challenges and honored the hard work that has been done.
"A school that means so much to the community like the Boys and Girls High School cannot be left to the wayside," Zinerman said. "The changes and improvements this school has made, including the tremendous increase in the graduation rate, is a testimony to the hard work that has been done and it needs to be recognized."
The evening concluded with a very special award, the "Honorable Annette Robinson Vanguard Excellence in Education Award," named after the former state assemblywoman. The award seeks to honor extraordinary educators fighting at the forefront to improve the quality of education for all. Dr. Lena Gates, principal of The Dr. Ronald E. McNair/Public School 5, received the award in recognition of her dedication to her school and her commitment and vision for the community.
"Yes, P.S. 5 is struggling, but we know it's possible to do anything," Gates said in her acceptance speech. "We're on a mission to make it one of the greatest schools in NYC. Help us continue to struggle and to move forward in this process."
State Assemblywoman Robinson, who made it part of her life's work to foster community development and education, proposed Gates as the recipient of the vanguard award, and surprised the honoree just in time for the award presentation at the end of the first Bed-Stuy's Best "Celebration of Excellence in Education."