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  • pamela mary schmidt

    Global human rights action began as small ripple for Long Island educator

    Posted November 24, 2020 by Liza Frenette

    It all started with chocolate. Learning about children being exploited as workers on cocoa farms gave teacher Pamela Mary Schmidt a taste for making change. Chocolate on the mind can be as strong as chocolate on the tongue. As an educator now teaching in Freeport, she has had many transformative moments in the classroom, but it was her introduction to human rights work while teaching in Brentwood in 2009 that she says changed her life. “I like to teach by connection to real-world events, ...

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  • ironman

    Port Jefferson teacher Charlotte Johnson rides in memory of ALS champion and fundraiser Chris Pendergast

    Posted October 29, 2020 by Liza Frenette

    You might assume that, as a marathon competitor, Charlotte Johnson has a sparkling collection of hard-earned medals hanging on a wall. But no. She’s given them all away. It’s personal. She used to teach with Christine Pendergast, whose husband Chris, also a teacher, was diagnosed with ALS the year Johnson began her career at Comsewogue. Chris Pendergast, an outdoor enthusiast and athlete who founded ALS Ride for Life, raised $10 million in the more than 27 years he lived with the cr...

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  • little libraries

    In Copenhagen, 'Little Libraries' bring big opportunities

    Posted August 28, 2020 by Liza Frenette

    It’s a different way to walk the beat. These days, Copenhagen retired teacher Deb Barnard Strianese makes the rounds once a week to check on and restock three new Little Libraries she helped bring into being in her own very little town. Her story began, as most do, with an idea. She thought about how her town did not have a library. As an elementary teacher, she knows first-hand how students can lose a lot of reading skills in summer, a situation heightened by not having a public library...

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  • kingston reads

    Kingston educators begin community-wide book group on race

    Posted July 15, 2020 by Liza Frenette

    Sometimes a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single book. In Kingston, that book is “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. City residents are reading it as a group called Kingston Reads.

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  • culinary

    Culinary arts professor cooks with kindness for his community

    Posted May 18, 2020 by Liza Frenette

    “I called it Depression Soup Kitchen when I first started,” said culinary arts professor Joe Forget, a member of the EOC Alliance local union. “But anti-depression is what I’m really doing.”

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  • Sing for Hope

    Peace, Love and Hope: Message of piano continues to be important

    Posted April 15, 2020 by Liza Frenette

    In springtime in New York City, palettes of color emerge in rampant beds of tulips in Central Park, fields of bluebells in Brooklyn’s Botanical Garden, and daffodils in backyards in Queens. And then there are the pianos. Yes, since 2006, springtime in New York has meant the appearance of 50 pianos painted by talented artists and available for the public to play. Although this year’s pandemic prompted suspension of the program, more than 500 pianos have been set out since this publi...

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  • bethlehem garden

    Bethlehem garden guru volunteers with students

    Posted September 27, 2019 by Liza Frenette

    For more than a decade, teacher Lisa Wood has volunteered to work with students at Bethlehem Middle School twice a week after school in a garden club.

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  • demarco rail trail

    Pearl River art teacher transforms rail trail with paint and imagination

    Posted June 7, 2019 by Liza Frenette

    In a crush of color, art teacher John DeMarco spent part of summer 2018 on a bicycle and walking path in Albany County transforming a quiet underpass with paint and imagination. He was chosen in a competitive quest for artists to brighten up a section of the nine-mile Helderberg-Hudson public rail trail.

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  • chris pendergast

    For his 70th birthday, Chris Pendergast got his voice back

    Posted April 17, 2019 by Liza Frenette

    Most of the time, Chris Pendergast — the retired Northport teacher and longtime ALS patient — speaks through the computer attached to the front of his wheelchair, using his bright blue eyes to stare at a letter and blink.

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  • it's what we do

    With Collegiate Scholars of Tomorrow program, UUP member Christopher Ellis puts young students on the path to college

    Posted February 14, 2019 by Liza Frenette

    By night, by weekend, and by evasive minutes and hours here and there, he directs a new program — Collegiate Scholars of Tomorrow — that puts hope and college money into NY 529 College Savings Program bank accounts for third graders across the city.

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