Padavan honors 41 teachers at Queens Farm Museum

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Coinciding with Teacher Appreciation Week, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) honored 41 educators from 40 schools in his district last Thursday at the Queens Farm Museum.

Principals at the schools nominated the teachers, who were given certificates by Padavan.

The senator said the awards went to teachers “who have gone the extra mile and done some remarkable things.”

“You are doing the Lord’s work in more ways than one,” he told the honorees. “We enjoy not only the fruits of your labor. Our children are the future and you give them a great start.”

Eileen McDonough, a second-grade teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village and a Douglaston resident, said she had never been honored before in her 17 years at the school.

“It’s quite a surprise,” she said. “It’s very humbling.”

Sister Josephine Barbieri, principal at Our Lady of Lourdes, nominated McDonough for the honor.

“She’s a great teacher and she’s been with us a long time,” Barbieri said. “She prepares the children so well. She’s there for the children all the time and she does everything she can to make learning exciting.”

Evelyn Sanz, an honoree from IS 109 in Queens Village who teaches English as a Second Language, has been an educator at the intermediate school for 24 years.

“I hope to retire next year, but the principal won’t have it,” she quipped.

The honor “was really appreciated after so many years of dedicated work,” she said. “I was surprised, I was happy.”

Scott Martin, JHS 94’s band director, said he found out he was getting an award when he was summoned to the principal’s office in the Whitestone school, which he said is usually a bad sign.

“She called me into her office and made it seem like something’s wrong to pull my leg,” he said.

Also honored was Richard Elgart, an Advanced Placement U.S. History and introduction to social psychology teacher at Cardozo High School in Bayside since 1995.

“It’s really a very nice ceremony,” he said. “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

Elgart, who has been teaching for 42 years, said he has no plans to retire.

“Honestly, it still feels like fun for me and I really enjoy the kids so I don’t feel as if I have to retire from anything because I still enjoy what I do,” he said. “I like the interaction with the kids. I like to see that light bulb go on and I like to see them blossom.”

While the honorees came from 40 schools in Padavan’s district — which includes Bayside, Whitestone, College Point, Auburndale, Little Neck, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose and Queens Village — one school, St. Francis Prep, had two teachers who received awards.

One went to Ann Marie Rich, who teaches science, and another to Phyliss Gambino, a religion instructor.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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