A Tradition Continues

Monday, May 4, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers,
I hope this newsletter finds all of our members and their families safe and healthy. This past Wednesday, April 29th, would have marked our 21st annual We Make a Difference Awards Ceremony. For those of us who have been part of our PFT family for a while, we understand the importance of this ceremony and its value to the Plainedge community.
For those of us who are new to Plainedge, the We Make a Difference Awards was created over two decades ago, during a time when the PFT and Plainedge community did not see eye-to-eye on the important role that educators play in the vitality of a neighborhood. Together with the community, the union leadership at the time sought to fix this damaged relationship. Under the direction of the former union President Ms. Laura Pokorny, the PFT embarked on creating an awards ceremony to showcase all the wonderful students in the District who make our community a better place to live and work. In addition, we wanted to demonstrate to the Plainedge residents that our teachers value the children we educate and consider ourselves part of the Plainedge family.
In order to accomplish these goals, we asked our teachers and teaching assistants to seek out those sometimes hidden gems in our classrooms: students who may not always excel academically, but whose work ethic and commitment to improving the lives of those around them deserve recognition. As such, the We Make a Difference Awards Ceremony was born. Since its inception, our ceremony has always been a highlight of the year in Plainedge and one of the most well- attended functions throughout the District. We have honored over 3,000 well-deserving students, and our award has become a cherished recognition by both students and their families.
When we left school a few months ago, all of our PFT leaders thought we would be back in time to continue our long tradition: recognizing the amazing citizenship of our students through the We Make a Difference Awards Ceremony. As the days and weeks passed, it became more apparent this year may be different. Our PFT leadership wondered how we could possibly disappoint all those students who were so excited to be recognized. Simply receiving a certificate and magnet in the mail would not even begin to commemorate such a distinct achievement.
After careful thought and consideration, our union leadership knew that we must do everything in our power to make sure the ceremony continues!

Therefore, it is my privilege and honor to inform the entire PFT membership that we will be hosting an online pre-recorded ceremony that will be broadcast to the Plainedge community on both the District's live feed and our PFT Facebook page sometime in June. Our two remarkable We Make a Difference Awards Coordinators, Erin Lehane and Bess DeGaray, are currently hard at work organizing the ceremony and transitioning it into an online format, while our presenters have all agreed to pre-record themselves giving their respective awards. In addition, Peter Lakes, our HS choral director, is currently in the process of having his jazz choir record a special song just for the ceremony.
There is no doubt our awards will be different this year. It may not have all the glamour and glitz that our ceremony has become renowned for; however, it just goes to show that even in the face of a global pandemic, the PFT is able to rise above and do whatever we can to honor such outstanding students!
I look forward to seeing you all again very soon! In solidarity.