Happy Birthday to me!
At my age, I no longer need material gifts (pleeeeease don’t tell my husband I just said that!). So instead, in honor of my birthday today, I’ve decided to give myself a virtual present.
To be precise, the present I’m giving myself is the gift of giving to others. In the spirit of this being awards season (the Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys and others), I’m creating an award to bestow.
I want to recognize commitment, dedication and demonstration of care for Wilton’s families and children. The “Patchy” didn’t sound very…catchy (sorry boss!). So I’m going to call this award the "MOMMY."
As it’s the first year (of hopefully many more) and because I’m making it up as I go along, let’s define the criteria to win a MOMMY: first, the recipient must be an individual or organization whose actions and/or purpose has benefitted Wilton’s children and families. Second…that’s pretty much it. There’s no panel of judges, no voting, no lobbying, no “for your consideration” PR campaign. It’s just me choosing those I’d like to recognize for going above and beyond to help our town’s kids.
Of course there are many worthy local associations, groups and people that could have easily been perfect MOMMY awardees. I hope to make this an annual thing, so that I can continue to acknowledge those that make a difference for Wilton’s children.
You’ll also likely have thoughts and opinions (hopefully no disagreements, and let’s keep comments courteous, please). But please join me in a collective (and peaceful) moment to recognize the work these recipients have done for all of Wilton’s residents.
The awardees will receive gifts suited for them, likely gift certificates to particular businesses around town—what better way to represent recognition From the Driver's Seat!
So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, the MOMMYs go to…
The Wilton Library
I’ve long been a fan of the Wilton Library and consider it our town jewel. My family increasingly relies on the library for unparalleled services and opportunities in the community.
Its varied educational experiences and resources are extraordinary. Within the library’s walls, my children interact with artists, speak French, play chess, celebrate different cultures, touch-and-feel string instruments—and, oh yes, love to read. As our book-buying budget has shrunk, they’ve learned that borrowing books, tending lovingly to borrowed books, and donating books we outgrow are important parts of being a well-read citizen. The library supplements and enriches the learning all our children do.
The library also makes great effort to promote different cultures, economic levels and abilities that make up the fabric of Wilton’s daily life. It hosts community events and provides meeting space for other community organizations. The Wilton Library is a mainstay of the community, a pillar of support to the individuals, citizens and groups that increasingly look to it for help and much deserves this award.
Dr. Gary Richards, Wilton Schools Superintendent
With an often thankless job, one requiring finesse, accounting prowess, political acumen, and of course the background of a professional educator, Dr. Richards oversees a school system long-lauded by residents and professionals alike. No matter where you stand on so many of the issues the town is now facing in the current budget battle, hopefully we can take a pause to recognize the intentions and tireless efforts of someone who has the instruction and well-being of Wilton’s children at heart. He shows grace under pressure and takes the heat, all the while working to coordinate the town’s largest organization devoted to our children.
Cider Mill Veteran’s Day Observance
I’m bowled over by any effort on the part of teachers to make the educational experience three-dimensional. When such tangible classroom experience can be paired with respect for those who put their lives on the front lines to serve our country—many of them seniors—and it can be done in such a way of personalizing the reverence, it deserves accolade.
This year’s Veteran’s Day experience took my breath away with how it wove the meaning of service to one’s country in with the respectful tribute to soldiers related to the school’s students. And then to add in a dose of cool pizazz with , students, veteran guests and visitors alike were captivated. This annual commemoration became the model for a national program. It deserves our salute…and earns Cider Mill administrators and teachers a MOMMY.
Although the events surrounding a reported bullying incident at Middlebrook School were polarizing, John McDermott’s efforts to speak out about the attack on behalf of his son, Jack, merit recognition for bringing the controversial topic into the spotlight. Say what you will about a complex, nuanced situation, but anytime a parent courageously supports his child against bullies, and simultaneously tries to move the discussion about countering the phenomenon into the forefront of local discussion, with proactive suggestions, it deserves mention. Thank you, John, for trying to get changes made and bringing the topic of bullying the attention it deserves in the district.
Liz and Dan Riley
Longtime Wilton residents Liz and Dan Riley have raised two children during their 46 years here, but they’ve benefited thousands more through their countless hours of volunteer time and dedication. They have indefatigably served several family-centered Wilton institutions and our town’s families have benefited greatly from this amazing couple.
Liz and Dan co-chair Ambler Farm’s Annual Greens Sale, and they both give generously of their time there (including Dan serving on the AF board). Liz is devoted to the Wilton Garden Club, and Dan is dedicated to the Wilton Library. Perhaps sweetest of all, Dan is a familiar face to many of Wilton’s school kids as the organizer of the popular 1st grade field trip to tour Norwalk Hospital. Liz has also touched the life of students by being a frequent substitute teacher at Wilton’s schools through the years.
That’s really what’s at the heart of giving them this award: it recognizes the example they set and how they teach Wilton’s youth to give back. I’m proud to have been repeatedly recruited by them to volunteer, and I’m thrilled at what they’ve given Wilton.
Mr. Andrew Pearson, Cider Mill Music Teacher
Mr. Pearson, along with his Cider Mill music colleagues Cheryll Ryder and Katherine Sheahan, dreamed up a way to make music even more relatable and cool for their students.
Thanks to a PTA grant, Mr. Pearson will now have a dozen new guitars for his 5th graders. Inspired by his own experience in grade school years ago, when he got hooked on playing guitar, Mr. Pearson wanted to put the music directly into the kids’ hands. His belief is that teaching kids to accompany themselves, to actually make music, is a profound musical experience. To empower the kids to create, to enable them to share it with others, and to relate to it as part of a broader popular musical experience, all the while connecting them to the arts? I find that magical, inspirational and inspired.
Countdown until the 2011-2012 Board of Education budget is decided:
12 Days left until the Board of Education responds to Board of Finance budget questions (March 1, 2011)
41 Days left until the Board of Finance holds its Public Hearing on the Education budget (March 30, 2011)
75 Days left until the Town Meeting (May 3, 2011)
Please help make sure our schools have the funding they need to keep educating our kids to the highest possible standards. Attend a Board of Finance meeting, a Board of Education meeting, let your elected officials know how you feel.