For the sixteenth consecutive year, Branford’s Education Hall of Fame will honor ten individuals who have made significant contributions to education. Since its birth in 1998, the Education Hall of Fame has taken a broad view of the term “education” as it has recognized individuals whose work has enhanced, expanded and facilitated learning. On Wednesday, January 24, 2013, selections for the 2013 Branford’s Education Hall of Fame were made. Eighty-five individuals participated in the selection of inductees.
Selected from a list of over one hundred nominees, the 2013 Hall of Fame inductees are Virginia Baltay, former science teacher at the Walsh Intermediate School whose work in educational programs at Outer Island is well known; Deb Bliven, an innovative, creative, Tisko School fourth grade teacher, who is a leader in professional development programs; Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, who is a champion of literacy and its role in educating children from birth and is great force in the “Read To Grow” program; Betty Ann Donegan, chemistry teacher and chef who has combined her two professional callings to earn distinction as an educator; Sharon MacKinnel, Tisko School kindergarten teacher whose energetic and inspirational teaching is celebrated across Branford; Jon Nelson, parent, educational activist and former Branford Board of Education member; Albert Russell, Branford community teacher and Branford historian, whose historical tours of Branford areas are legendary; and Bruce E. Storm, Ed. D., educational leader and former superintendent of Branford Public Schools for 13 years. Marguerite “Peg” Ballard, a nationally recognized early education teacher, who served Branford as a kindergarten and special education teacher, and as a Walsh Intermediate School librarian; and Dorothy Newton Rider, beloved former Brushy Plains School and Indian Neck School teacher for 40 years, will be inducted posthumously. The induction dinner will be held at Woodwinds Restaurant in Branford on Thursday, April 25, at 5:30 PM.
While the Hall of Fame honors teachers and public school administrators, it recognizes the contributions to education by others from the community. In the spirit of the African adage, “It takes a whole community to educate a child”, the Hall of Fame is dedicated to celebrating outstanding educators using the broadest sense of the term “education.”
Unlike many halls of fame, Branford’s Educational Hall of Fame does not have an actual area or building. Instead, the names of inductees are inscribed on a bookplate in the library books the organization donates each year to the Branford Public School libraries. The Hall of Fame has named this process “The Susan Spear School Library Book Project” in honor of a longtime Branford teacher and Branford Board of Education member who developed the concept. Approximately 950 books for school libraries and have been donated to school libraries and, in a sense, has become a functional, learning based hall of fame in the schools through these books. Without the long term support of this program by Michael Krause and the recent commitment of “Read to Grow,” this project would not be a reality.