2012 Celebration of Excellence Awards

Parents for Public Schools of Syracuse, Inc. held their annual Celebration of Excellence on May 30th by honoring outstanding members of their school communities. Awardees were selected from parents, students, teachers, administration and other school community workers. Some of the highlighted areas of service included: exceptional volunteerism, leadership, achievement, community building, and community service.

It was an inspiring and moving evening as this year's unsung heroes and heroines who work tirelessly on behalf of our schools were honored.  Their stories unfolded before an audience of 250 people, all very different but tied together with a common thread...  perseverance  to do what's right for the children. In addition to the 2012 Celebration of Excellence Awards, the Mary Ficchi Lifetime Achievement Award was also presented. This prestigious honor is given to an individual who has dedicated many years of service to public education and shares the values embodied in the PPS mission. 

This year's recipient, Marjorie Carter, 83 was chosen for the award because of her many years as a dedicated educator in the Syracuse City School District, impressive accomplishments and continued volunteer service to the community.“Two very bold landmarks were set by Marjorie,” said Bob Gardino, Vice President of the Syracuse chapter of PPS. “She was the first president of the Syracuse Teachers Association and the Syracuse City School District’s first African American teacher. Marjorie was the model that began it.” He added “Marjorie has been an educator for more than 60 years and even though she no longer teaches in the district, she lends an educational presence to anything she does. She is a joyous, positive person and those attributes spilled over into her work with students and other teachers.”

Yet, these accomplishments that paved the way for others individuals were not what motivated Carter. “Being the first black teacher was not a thought in my head,” she said. “At the time, my aim was to teach. I was only concerned with teaching these little first-graders to read, write and other things.”

Carter was born and raised in Syracuse and attended city schools. It was in the sixth grade that Carter realized what path she wanted to take in life. She told her parents she wanted to teach after being inspired by one of her own teachers. “My sixth-grade teacher had a different way of teaching,” Carter said during a recent interview. “I remember in the spring she brought in wildflowers – trillium – to teach about nature and we talked about it. I liked that and wanted to do that somedaym.“Teachers never know what gets implanted and stays with a child forever. Truly, you don’t know what will spark something in a child at any age,” she said.

At the end of the night, Gardino closed the heartwarming celebration with only a few words. There was definitely something special in the air.  He said, "it is a good night when tears, laughs, inspiration and passion are all shared."  It was a good night indeed.  

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