South Huntington Educators Honored With Martin Luther King Jr. Commission Service Award
Story & photo by Steve Bartholomew
South Huntington Deputy Superintendent Ms. Jacci Harris and South Huntington 2013 Teacher of the Year Mr. Rufus Shepard were honorees at the Suffolk County Martin Luther King, Jr., Commission annual awards luncheon, held on Friday, January 16.
The luncheon also featured the Central Islip High School Concert Choir. The Honorable Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive, spoke of the commitment to Dr. King’s dream, and keynote speaker Dr. Cynthia Diaz, a successful lawyer and judge who left the corporate world to enter the ministry, encouraged the audience to be passionate about learning and sharing new areas of growth and positive development in their communities.
“None of us do this work alone,” said Ms. Harris. “I’m able to do great work for our school children because of the support from my family at home and, of course, my South Huntington school family. I think Dr. King is smiling when he sees the work we’re doing together, knowing we have much to do, but that we are committed to working together to make a difference in the communities and children we serve.”
“I’m grateful and humbled to receive an award in honor of a man whom I so admired,” said Mr. Shepard. “Dr. King was the epitome of discipline, a man who sacrificed so much for public service.”
“Becoming an educator was a life-long dream of mine, and I want to thank my mom and dad for their support in helping me to pursue that dream,” continued Mr. Shepard. “I also want to thank the many teachers throughout my life, not just in the classroom, but in the South Huntington community–clergy, my aunts and uncles—who constantly reminded me that I had great potential, that I would be judged by my character, and that I should never give up on my dreams.”
Mr. Shepard continued, “Dr. King said, ‘Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. I’m honored to be an educator and proud to be on the front line and hopefully make a small difference in the world. The personal promise I made when I became a teacher was to never give up on a child, just as no one gave up on me.”
Photo: Left to right: Dr. Joseph Centamore, NYS Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci, Jim Kaden, honorees Rufus Shepard and Jacci Harris, Dr. Dave Bennardo, Lisa Brieff, and Ed Nitkewicz.