With its first-ever Esse Non Videri Gala Awards Dinner on Nov. 19 at the Garden City Hotel, St. Joseph’s paid homage to its longstanding tradition of graduating outstanding and influential educators by celebrating 10 of its very best.
Alumni teachers and administrators from schools across New York City and Long Island — as well as from outside the state — were honored for their extraordinary efforts. Among them was Julianna Bove ’82 of New York City’s Department of Education, who received the Educator of the Year award.
Joseph Lewinger ’00, an assistant principal at The Mary Louis Academy in Queens who died in 2020 due to complications from COVID-19, was honored as a cherished alumnus and a devoted veteran teacher and administrator.
More than 200 alumni, friends of the College and guests attended the fundraising event, a new St. Joseph’s tradition that benefits student scholarships. The event acknowledged the College’s motto: Esse non videri — “To be, not to seem.”
An Inspiring Evening
Those in attendance said they were moved by the encouraging stories of the award winners — a group of motivated educators driven to help others realize and meet their potential.
“The inspirational evening was a testament to the impact St.Joseph’s College alumni are having on the next generation — in schools, workplaces and in the community,” said Rory Shaffer-Walsh, vice president for Institutional Advancement at St. Joseph’s. “Proceeds from the Gala go toward scholarships for future educators, and we are grateful for the generosity of our sponsors and donors.”
Diane Ravitch, a friend of the College and an education advocate, noted how joyous it was to watch the College celebrate teachers. She wrote about the event on her blog, where she discusses topics related to education.
“It was a beautiful, inspiring evening,” Ravitch said. “A celebration of the people who give their lives to educating the next generation. It was comforting and inspirational to spend an evening applauding these heroes.”
SJC Board of Trustees member S. Kathleen McKinney ’71, C.S.J, Ed.D., chaired the Gala Awards Committee, while Trustees Mary Ellen Dubiel Freeley ’67, Ed.D., and Paul Romanello ’79, M.D., co-chaired the Gala Committee.
Meet the ‘Esse Non Videri Gala’ Award Winners:
EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR
Julianna Bove ’82
Superintendent for District 22 in Brooklyn New York City Department of Education
Bove views many aspects of her role as superintendent rewarding, but time spent with students is her favorite.
“The actual interactions with students are most rewarding,” she said. “Seeing their smiles gives me the energy needed to create new policies and programs to better their learning and future.”
As someone who was born in the United States but didn’t learn English until the third grade, Bove is inspired most by the progress of her multilingual learners.
“This personal connection gives me the inspiration to support the multi-language learners in all the communities in my district,” said Bove, who grew up in an Italian-speaking household.
As a proud SJC Brooklyn graduate, Bove said she is honored to receive an Esse Non Videri award from her alma mater.
“Being recognized by an institution that I admire is very important to me,” Bove said. “There are many awards out there, but this one hits my past and future, as I vow to continue upholding the morals I learned while at St. Joseph’s.”
EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION – PRIMARY AND EARLY EDUCATION
Leah Hebert Olivo ’06
Math Ambassador, William Floyd School District
Olivo began her teaching journey as a child study major at SJC Long Island, where her experiences prepared her for her role as a fourth grade special education teacher in an integrated co-teaching setting.
At William Floyd schools, Olivo is the district’s math ambassador, a building lead math teacher, and a member of the William Floyd Teacher Center. During the height of the COVID- 19 pandemic, she also served as a website creator for the district.
“I love teaching because it is such a rewarding career,” Olivo said. “I have the privilege of making an impact in my students’ lives, and I benefit from the difference they make in mine.
“Each day is filled with new learning experiences for everyone in class, and that makes teaching so unique!” she continued. “I enjoy watching how much my students grow over the course of one school year, and appreciate watching students connecting with each other and the world around them.”
EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION – SECONDARY EDUCATION
Christina Quintana ’14, M.A. ’16
Ninth Grade U.S. History Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) Teacher
The Scholars’ Academy in the Far Rockaway
A history teacher who works on the special education side of an ICT classroom, Quintana is inspired every day by the people she encounters.
“From students to colleagues and everyone in between, I see every interaction as a learning experience and motivation to be better and do better,” the SJC Brooklyn alumna said.
Although she didn’t go into teaching for the awards or accolades, she’s honored to be recognized by her alma mater for the work she does.
“Receiving this award is satisfying because it reinforces what I have always known — that the field of education is where I belong,” said Quintana, who is working toward a master’s in educational leadership at the College of St. Rose.
“This award has shown me that people believe in me as a teacher, and knowing I have support is what I will take with me when I am a future building or district leader.”
Kim Redgrave ’91, M.S.
Principal of Stephen Knolls School
In good times and bad, Redgrave is the definition of Esse non videri. Just ask her.
“To be, rather than to seem. There is no greater description of me — for better or worse,” said Redgrave, principal of Stephen Knolls School in Kensington, Maryland, since 2013. “Esse non videri — I mirror this statement and have taken it with me in all that I do.”
Her alma mater agrees.
An educator for three decades, Redgrave has earned numerous awards recognizing her work with children and communities. Among them was being selected as a Washington Post Principal of the Year finalist.
Redgrave has proven herself to be a transparent leader who focuses her efforts on the students and their needs. At Stephen Knolls School, her work revolves around advocating for students with multiple and severe cognitive disabilities and their families.
“Knowing that each day you are making a difference for a child, a family and a community — there is no greater reward,” she said.
Latoya O’Gere ’11, M.S. ’18, DNP, MSN/Ed, RN
Associate Executive Director
NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care
A two-time SJC Brooklyn graduate, O’Gere is an authentic leader passionate about nursing education, patient safety, clinical excellence and quality patient outcomes. Her inspiration to teach comes from her devotion to nursing excellence in education and clinical practice.
“I am honored to receive the Rising Star Award because I hope to inspire other nurses to be emerging leaders in nursing education, innovation, research, and clinical practice,” said O’Gere, who earned a B.S. in Nursing and an M.S. in Nursing Education at St. Joseph’s.
When O’Gere teaches, she strives to connect with each student, and to create a relaxed and open learning environment.
O’Gere also takes on behind-the-scenes work to ensure each nursing student gets the best education possible. At NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care, she creates cost-effective, data-driven nursing education, health promotion and chronic disease management programs, utilizing research and evidence-based practice guidelines.
Andria Onorato ’16, M.A. ’19
Special Education Teacher
Sycamore Avenue Elementary School
Connetquot Central School District
Going into her profession, Onorato knew well that she would be an important influence on the lives of her students.
Now, with a few years of teaching experience under her belt, the Sycamore Avenue Elementary School (Bohemia) teacher is learning just how powerful her acts and words in the classroom can be.
“Recently, a parent told me that her child said a phrase that they definitely had heard from me,” Onorato said. “When this parent told me what their child said, it brought tears to my eyes to see the strides their child made since September, and that it is carrying through their life outside of school.
“This truly touched my heart because I didn’t realize how powerful and inspiring the words I say are,” she added.
Onorato speaks with parents daily, follows up during challenging times in her students’ lives, and spends countless hours on weeknights and weekends creating lessons and activities for each student. In class, she employs creative learning activities — including game shows — and establishes individualized learning plans that target behavior and learning goals for each student.
“Of course, I have the privilege and opportunity to inspire my students, but little do they know, they are the ones who inspire me … to be a better educator,” she said.
Jade Lawrence ’20
Paul J. Bellew Elementary School
West Islip School District
Lawrence finished her St. Joseph’s College career amid the COVID-19 pandemic — but that didn’t stop her from completing over 100 hours of professional development before graduation. One year later, leading a classroom is her favorite place to be.
“I am honored to receive an Esse Non Videri award because I put in the work,” said Lawrence, an SJC Long Island child study graduate. “I didn’t just teach after COVID; I began my career. I stepped foot into a world that seasoned teachers had to make major adjustments for … Receiving this award tells me that my efforts this last year have not gone unnoticed. I matter as a teacher. I am meant to do this.”
Every day when Lawrence steps into her classroom, she aims to make learning fun and engaging for her students.
“I wanted to be a teacher so I could have a classroom where all of my students can succeed and grow,” Lawrence said. “I learned this when I was in 8th grade, when my science teacher let me create a clay model of a cell instead of writing a paper. I was able to show my skills and understanding in a way that was good for me.”
COVID-19 PANDEMIC EDUCATOR
Joanna Bis ’16, M.A. ’18
Fourth Grade Teacher
P.S. 253 in Brooklyn
New York City Department of Education
Bis, a first-generation college graduate who grew up in a Polish household, has gone above and beyond in her role as an educator for the past five years. Receiving an Esse Non Videri award comes as both a shock and an honor, she said.
“It made all the craziness worth it,” Bis said. “I’m elated that even after graduating, I still have such a positive relationship with St. Joseph’s.”
When sharing what inspires her in her work, Bis said her father, who passed away suddenly in January 2021, always motivated her to be the best educator she could be.
“While I was working remotely, he would always listen to my lessons and ask about what I was teaching,” she said. “He was my first teacher, and now with him gone, I see how much he has taught me about the world and through life lessons.”
COVID-19 PANDEMIC EDUCATOR
Jennifer Silberberg ’19, M.A. ’21
Special Ed Teacher
P.S. 102 in Brooklyn
New York City Department of Education
Sometimes it’s the little things about her work as a special education teacher that touch Silberberg’s soul the most.
When schools closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, Silberberg recalled, a parent reached out to her in an email asking about the student of the month award her son had earned but didn’t have the chance to receive.
“I made a student of the month award and emailed it to this student’s mother for him,” she said. “The mother said he was so happy that he finally received his award!”
Time and again during the pandemic, she has gone the extra mile for her students, their families and her colleagues.
She did little things, like asking fun questions for attendance during Google Classroom, such as the students’ favorite colors or animals. And big things, such as navigating her own class through remote learning, while helping other teachers unfamiliar with Google Classroom and the technology to help manage their remote classes.
Silberberg routinely called students to check on the status of their remote work and to see if all was OK at home.
LEGACY IN EDUCATION
Joseph Lewinger ’00 (Posthumous)
The Mary Louis Academy in Queens
Lewinger devoted his life to teaching others — both in and out of the classroom. During his career, Lewinger climbed the ranks at The Mary Louis Academy (TMLA), an all-girls Sisters of St. Joseph accredited high school in Queens, where he most recently served as assistant principal.
Lewinger passed away in the spring of 2020 due to complications of COVID-19. He was 42.
The Gala Awards Committee unanimously nominated Lewinger for the Legacy in Education Award because he was such a deeply committed educator in his life.
The reach of Lewinger’s teaching was evident through the outpouring of support over the past year and a half. Remembered most for his infectious smile and how he never hesitated to help those in need, TMLA created a Student Life Fund in Lewinger’s name to benefit students facing a critical moment in their lives, like the death of a parent, loss of their home or a major illness. An endowed scholarship in his name was created at St. Joseph’s College, supporting dreams of higher education for aspiring teachers.