Maddy Manzella is a woman in action, working for her colleagues and students, making her school a center of sustainability and hands-on learning, and earning her NYSUT's "School-Related Professional of the Year" award.
"This is a woman of boundless energy and amazing advocacy," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue. "She is always looking for ways to improve the quality of others' lives."
Manzella is a 19-year member of the Somers School-Related Professionals local union in Westchester County. She's served as a building representative and local union president and vice president. She brought her local into the VOTE-COPE program.
Working with the union's Education & Learning Trust in 2004, she helped 50 teaching assistants meet new certification rules so they could continue their commitment to Somers' children.
Known as "the bodyguard" by students and staff at Somers Intermediate School, Manzella "is exquisitely sensitive to the special needs of students who appear to be in distress, whatever the reason," her colleague Clare Anderson noted in her nomination.
One of Manzella's most notable achievements is the creation of an "Everlasting Garden" on school grounds. It makes children aware of issues like sustainability, organic gardening and the environment.
"Maddy is a reminder of how to live life to the fullest," Anderson wrote. "She wastes no time, and gives with no expectation of receiving."