Historic Night, Historic Venue: New York’s Business Leaders, Educators Join Together at PENCIL Gala
More than 700 business leaders, principals, teachers, students, supporters, and media members, gathered at the American Museum of Natural History on May 10 to celebrate PENCIL, honor four of our exceptional PENCIL Partners, and make “Imagine What We Can Do: An Evening To Benefit PENCIL” a success.
“Once again, New Yorkers demonstrated that their action and leadership are essential to transforming public education,” said Denise Nelson, Vice President of Resource Development, PENCIL. “We take their marked support as a mandate to continue fostering relationships between schools and business leaders to ensure that all our children have the opportunities and resources that they need to succeed from elementary school to high school, college, and beyond.”
The annual spring Gala was officiated by Mistress of Ceremonies Soledad O’Brien and punctuated with performances and speeches by the PS 149 Steelband, the Choir Academy of Harlem Performance Choir, Executive Coach Ora Schtull, and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Eric Benét.
At the Gala, we honored Stephen J. Meringoff, Chairman, Meringoff Properties, Inc., with the inaugural Public School Champion Award. The award—presented by Shyam Nooredeen, a former PENCIL Fellow and current employee of Meringoff Properties, Inc.—recognized Meringoff’s outstanding commitment to transforming public education through the support of PENCIL. Meringoff has made it possible for us to place more than 500 NYC public high school students in summer internships through the PENCIL Fellows program and during the award presentation, over 30 past and former PENCIL Fellows descended the staircase in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, illustrating how one person’s work, passion, and commitment can truly make a difference.
“Not only has Steve been a role model and a mentor to me—he’s also inspired my entire community,” said Nooredeen. “My story and the opportunities Mr. Meringoff has given me have inspired my peers to dream big and pursue greatness.”
”I am truly honored to be here…The issue of public education in this City is critically important, and is often overlooked,” said Meringoff, who later cited Booker T. Washington: “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
At the Gala, we also recognized Arup and its Partners, Monique Campbell, Principal of The School of Integrated Learning, and Nedda de Castro, Principal of The International High School at Prospect Heights, with the 2012 PENCIL Partnership Award. Arup’s two partnerships addressed each of their school partners’ specific needs.
At The International High School at Prospect Heights, Arup and Principal de Castro worked with science and math teachers to create separate bridge and wind turbine projects that allowed the students to study science, math, and engineering. Students learned how to design on AutoCAD, and have used the program in changing one classroom into a dance studio and another into a music room. As a school that exclusively serves English Language Learners, these projects help students practice their English with professional adults, and exposes them to new careers.
Principal Campbell and Arup employees worked with an acoustic consultant and a structural engineer to design a curriculum based on renovating the school’s music room at The School of Integrated learning. The hands-on program emphasized budgeting, acoustics, sustainable soundproofing, and building materials, and resulted in increased on-time attendance and a strong interest in engineering among student participants.
“As educators, we are always seeking new ways to engage and challenge our students, and Arup’s Partnership has afforded this opportunity in our students, teachers, and school leaders,” said Principal Monique Campbell. Addressing the Business Leaders, she added: “Our youth need your support. You have what it takes. Start a Partnership. Make a difference.”
The Wall Street Journal, Fox 5, and The New York Charity Examiner all stopped by to cover the Gala, speak to VIP’s, and discuss the important work that we’re doing at PENCIL. And, in a first for PENCIL, staff live-tweeted some of the key events of the evening, ensuring that our friends and followers who couldn’t join us could still get a sneak peak of the proceedings.