NYSUT School-Related Professionals Member of the Year: Maddy Manzella, Somers School Related Professionals. Since joining the union in 1991, third-grade teacher aide Maddy Manzella has been involved on the executive board at many levels, including vice president and president. While in office, she challenged the membership to strive for excellence and integrity and to take a stand for the best it can be in any circumstance. She accomplished this promoting trust and creating an atmosphere of mutual respect. Under her leadership, the union made its first contribution to VOTE-COPE, which now continues annually. In 2004, Manzella helped more than 50 teaching assistants to meet the new certification rules, working with NYSUT's Education & Learning Trust to provide the necessary coursework in the district. Manzella is fondly known as "the bodyguard" by students and staff. She advocates for anyone who needs help, in or out of school. The school is proud of its "Everlasting Garden," which is a result of a vision Manzella had for the community. She wanted to enhance hands-on learning about the environment and organic gardening, combined with a school initiative on sustainability. She recently gained a $10,000 grant from the Somers Education Foundation to expand the program to include a greenhouse for year-round farming. There's not a person in the district who doesn't know Maddy Manzella. She has touched so many lives.
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