Ten local advocates of education, including former school board members, current staff, volunteers, and members of the business community, were recently honored by the Ulster County School Boards Association (UCSBA) for their commitment to education.
Representing individual school districts in Ulster County after being nominated by their local Boards of Education, the honorees were recognized at UCSBA’s fourth annual Distinguished Friends of Education Awards Dinner on May 23 at the Best Western in Kingston.
This year’s honorees are:
- Patricia & Mark Steinhoff, Ellenville Central School District. Both are retired Ellenville educators and coaches who positively impacted students’ lives for more than 30 years. Mr. and Mrs. Steinhoff continue to give back, as they quietly pay for kids to attend track camp at West Point every year.
- Randie H. Ratick, Highland Central School District. As a founding member of the Highland Music Boosters, Ms. Ratick exhibits a passion for music education that has enriched the educational experience of students in the Highland Central School District and the community at large.
- Rev. James Childs Sr., Kingston City School District. A member of the Kingston City School District Board of Education since 2008, Rev. Childs has been a steadfast advocate for diversity and cultural responsiveness in hiring and shaping the district’s individual school environments. In everything he does, he leaves his community more beautiful than he found it.
- Anne Casey, Marlboro Central School District. A retired Marlboro High School English teacher and department chair, Ms. Casey made quite a mark over her 38-year career. From her accomplishments as a member of the Response to Intervention (RTI) Committee to ensuring her department remained current with NYS Standards and Regents Exams, she brought out the very best in everyone.
- Renée Falanga-Brenner, New Paltz Central School District. Ms. Falanga-Brenner has been a staple in the New Paltz school community for a generation, touching lives as a fundraiser, event planner, special needs advocate, and so much more.
- Robert Curran, Onteora Central School District. A dedicated member of the Ulster BOCES Board of Education and past member of the Onteora Central School District Board of Education, Mr. Curran volunteers his talents to low income and senior citizens in tax, Social Security, and other financial matters.
- Nelda Gerner, Rondout Valley Central School District. Founder of the Leadership Institute, Ms. Gerner’s commitment to student achievement continues to inspire as each year she and her husband sponsor a student for the SUNY Ulster Presidents’ Challenge Scholarship.
- Evelyn Rauschendorfer, Saugerties Central School District. Mrs. Rauschendorfer, fondly called Miss Evelyn, volunteers through the Westchester Community Opportunity Program’s Foster Grandparent Program. When she isn’t greeting students outside with Lifesavers and a smile as they walk to school in the morning, she spends almost four hours a day supporting first-grade teachers and fulfilling her commitment to educate her youngest learners.
- Larry Silverman, Wallkill Central School District. Owner of Silverleaf Nursery in the Hamlet of Wallkill, Mr. Silverman has been a dependable friend of the Wallkill Central School District ever since one day 16 years ago when he offered his assistance in planning the design of the Plattekill Elementary School Greenhouse. Since then, his support of the school district has bloomed.
- Rosario Agostaro, Ulster BOCES. Never swaying from his motto to “put students first,” Mr. Agostaro helped transform the educational experience by building and strengthening the relationship with SUNY Ulster through such innovative programs as the P-TECH model, which is a six-year pathway of study that allows students to earn an associate’s degree and workforce readiness skills.
Saugerties Central School District Board of Education trustee Krista Barringer, who is the outgoing president of the Ulster County School Boards Association and a member of the Ulster BOCES Board of Education, co-hosted the Distinguished Friends of Education Awards Dinner. Upon being presented with a thank you gift by co-host and president-elect, Robert Kurnit, who serves on the Onteora Central School District Board of Education, Barringer said it’s been an honor to lead the Ulster County School Boards Association.
“Being Ulster County School Boards Association president has been more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined, and an event such as this highlights the reasons why we do what we do,” Barringer told the honorees. “It is the never-ending supply of remarkable community volunteers that make our schools and our communities so very special. Thank you!”