Teachers Demonstrate College Pride

By Sherry Fung ’15 

Cornell, Stony Brook, Binghamton, and James Madison were some colleges that students had an opportunity to notice around school on College Pride Day. On December 3, Midwood’s faculty and staff wore their former college shirts or their children’s college shirts to present school pride.

Mr. Nigel Pestano, assistant of forming College Pride Day, hoped students understood that those in charge of educating them are proud of their experiences. He added, “It also gives a chance for colleagues to form a community among themselves.”

Mrs. Wendy Guida, English teacher and SUNY Albany graduate, said she was still learning about her co-workers and was curious about what schools they attended.

College Pride Day came along with a mixer, where students and teachers gathered to discuss colleges. The gathering was held in room 445 during period 5, 6, and 7. Many teachers and staff participated in the event, spewing information about colleges to students.

“I get the chance to interact with students on a different level,” said TJ Sealey, Spark counselor and Tuskegee graduate. “A lot of times I talk to students on academics and problems in life. But this was a chance of giving back and telling what my college experiences were like.”

Mr. Howard Spergel, physics teacher and Cornell graduate, came to help out students who had lingering uncertainties about colleges. He advised students to speak with someone who had spent time at a college rather than to just read about it.

Unlike most teachers, Mrs. Patricia Heyligar, biology teacher, took pride in her daughter’s school, Howard University, the first Historical Black College and University (HBCU).

This year’s College Pride Day event is Midwood’s first ever. Ms. Valeria Howell, Spanish teacher, initiated the creation and asked Mr. Pestano for assistance. It was created for students to appreciate that they have a “wealth of resources” in Midwood.

“I have been working here for 10 years now and there’s never been an event like this,” Ms. Howell said. “Every year, I’m writing recommendations for students applying for college; only a few students asked what college I went to.”

Additionally, Ms. Howell wanted students to understand how teachers and others arrived at where they are now. She recommended that students, not just juniors and seniors, start thinking about the different majors, scholarships, and the future.

Perhaps because this was the first year of College Pride Day, there were few students who attended. Amber Edwards ‘14 participated to see what colleges teachers went to and how college life was for them. Speaking with the teachers, she discovered that college would be nothing like high school and that hard work is necessary to succeed.

As founder of College Pride Day, Ms. Howell hopes to expand the event to make it bigger and better. For future events, Edwards ‘14 suggested the mixer be held in the auditorium or courtroom so others could find the room more easily. “Maybe it can happen after school so all teachers and students will be available too,” said Edwards ‘14.

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