On Monday, June 5th, the Bank Street College Alumni Association (BSCAA) held its annual Alumni Awards ceremony to recognize and celebrate six exceptional Graduate School of Education alumni for their invaluable contributions to the field of education.
This year’s honorees included Davia Brown-Franklyn, ’97, Senior Director of Partnerships at the Bank Street Education Center; Dan Haggard, ’78, early childhood systems consultant; Takiema Bunche-Smith, ’97, Associate Executive Director for Early Childhood Programs at University Settlement; Melissa Heckler, ’83, award-winning storyteller, school librarian, and social activist; Ursula Davis, ’74, renowned early childhood education specialist; and Judy Jablon, ’87, teacher, consultant, author, and founder of nonprofit organization Leading for Children.
After opening remarks from BSCAA President Jim Clay, ’88, and Dean of the Graduate School of Education Cecelia Traugh, honorees took the stage to formally accept their awards and deliver speeches highlighting their life’s work in front of a standing-room-only audience of families, friends, colleagues, fellow alumni, and other members of the Bank Street community.
The diverse group of honorees was made up of educators, practitioners, administrators, librarians, and activists who have spent their lives deeply engaged in a mission to improve the education of children. In their remarks, they took the time to illustrate the many ways in which their experiences at Bank Street have shaped them both personally and professionally.
“Bank Street encouraged us to make the change in the world of education that we wanted and needed to see,” said Davis. “The staff at Bank Street never leaves you. It’s like they are embedded in our DNA.”
“My early learning and work here in the first years of my stepping-stone laid a solid foundation for all that has come after,” said Jablon. “It is an inspiration to keep going on this exciting journey to improve the lives of children, families, and educators.”
Following the ceremony, guests joined each other in the lobby for the Tar Beach Reunion Party, a staple of the yearly event that provides a space for the community to mingle and catch up with friends over refreshments and light snacks.
The honorees’ speeches are available below for your viewing.