September 06, 2007

Five of a kind

Source: New York Teacher
Caption: John Dalmolin, a teacher at PS 14 in Queens, with 'Class Acts' awardee Marques Seme and his mother, Cheryl Tellis-Seme. Photo by Pat Arnow.

Five outstanding kids and the teachers who inspired them did the city proud when they won the 2007 Daily News Class Acts Award in June.

United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten lauded the students for "using the power of a strong and honorable character to not only advance knowledge, but to achieve the essential beauty of wisdom."

Their stories are:

  • Thirteen-year-old Daniel Singh has always been a straight-A student - before and after he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Called "unstoppable" by teacher Ross Cohen, the budding scientist, mathematician and writer began attending Brooklyn Tech this month. "I am very thankful for the opportunities in my life, including having Ross as my teacher," Singh said.
  • Escaping the slaughter of civil war in Liberia when he was 14, Bomie Cooper arrived in New York during a frigid winter, "determined to get my dream started." Five years later, he is one of only 22 students accepted into the elite Licensed Nursing Program at Curtis HS, acing demanding courses while working part-time. "I plan to open a full-service health center for kids as soon as possible," he said. Guidance counselor Georgiana del Busto said, "It's incredibly rewarding to watch a respectful and responsible student like Bomie pursue his dreams."
  • Fifth-grader Marques Seme refuses to let Tourette's syndrome keep him from participating fully in life or envisioning a great future. "Patience helps me a lot," he said. At PS 14 in Queens, teacher John Dalmolin said Marques taught him that "no matter what challenge you have in life, you must step up to the plate and give it your best swing."
  • Tamara Minott, peer mentor and scholarship-winning graduate of Abraham Lincoln HS in Brooklyn, grew up fast when her mother died. "It would bring me glory just to be half the person that my mother was," said Minott, who took care of herself and her younger sister almost single-handedly. "I'm going to be a social worker so I can help people to understand and heal themselves." College counselor Renee Schonfeld said Minott has the insight, diplomacy and sensitivity needed to meet that goal.
  • A father in jail, a destitute mother, a sick brother and the gloom of a homeless shelter could not knock Wadleigh Secondary School graduate Gregory Herman's star out of the sky. The 17-year-old not only stayed on a steady course but has been a "big brother" to many kids, delivered meals to the needy and earned a full scholarship to the University of Vermont, where he will major in psychology.

Mentor Darryl Williams, director of a group that ministers to the homeless, said Herman "was always good at helping others." Herman vowed "to keep service to others as a primary aim for the rest of my life."


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