‘Speechless’ educator among five honored at Fall Classic
BRISTOL BOROUGH - Mary Gesualdi arrived at the Canal Works building in Bristol Borough, prepared to roll up her sleeves and help out at the 2012 Fall Classic, the second annual such event at which four educators were slated to be honored for decades of service to their students. From the look on her face, it was obvious that no one let the cat out of the bagW Gesualdi had no LGHD WKDW sKH wRuOG EH WKH fiIWK teacher under the spotlight.
Gesualdi, Title I coordinator at Warren Snyder-John Girotti Elementary School, was a member of the steering committee of the Bristol Fall CODssLF, SODnnHG WR EHnHfiW WKH Bristol Borough 21st Century Community Learning Center. An hour before guests were scheduled to arrive, Gesualdi thought she’d be helping fellow committee members see that everything was on schedule. But instead of checking tables and arranging programs, she was surrounded by family members, including her husband Mark and her 27-yearold daughter, Christina.
“I’m just speechless, for once in my life,” Gesualdi said. “I was here earlier to set up. I sold the tickets. Now I feel that I’ve sold tickets to my own event. I feel very humbled.”
Other educators recognized for their accomplishments in the classroom wereW Karen Pezza, former principal of St. Mark School; Joseph Franceschini, who taught English at Bristol High School and later at Conwell Egan High School; Kenneth Bachmann, who retired as Bristol Borough School District’s music teacher; and Carolyn Mignoni Ferguson, who taught kindergarten and Snyder-Girotti for 25 yHDUs, DnG RnH RI WKH fiUsW WR recognize the importance of an after school program for kids.
The Learning Center serves children from grades 1-3, 4-5, and S-12 in various age-appropriate programs that involves them in academics, sports, music, scouting, yoga, martial arts and SAT preparation. The programs rely on grants but will eventually have to become self-sustaining if it is to continue.
The grants that have been secured are operated by the United Way of Bucks County in conjunction with the Bristol Borough School District, but like all grants, they have a limited shelf life. To keep the momentum going, the oversight committee is involved in fundraising events and tapping community members, corporations and other organizations for donations.
Bernard Mazzocchi, the owner of Canal Works, wowed the crowd of approximately 400 people with his transformation of the room where the festivities were held. In two week’s time, Mazzocchi had converted the outworn room DnG GLUW flRRU LnWR D UDw EuW elegant space complete with D EUusKHG FRnFUHWH flRRU, D beamed ceiling sporting exposed pipes - a “work in progress,” he called it. Mazzocchi is noted for revitalizing various buildings around town, including the former Jefferson Avenue School, the Asta Building at Pond Street and Lincoln Avenue, and a 19thFHnWuUy fiUHKRusH DW 3RnG DnG Mulberry streets.
Hors d’oeuvres, wine, soda, and, as a special treat, Dad’s Hat Whiskey - made in Bristol Borough - were served throughout the night, but the highlight of the evening was the program. Committee member Amy McIlvaine gave a short introduction to each honoree, highlighting their individual accomplishments. 7KHn LW wDs WKH WuUn RI WKH fiYH to speak for themselves.
The following are excerpts from each one’s commentsW
Ken Bachmann - “I feel honored to be one of the persons to be recognized. They gave me the opportunity to guide and teach the students. I thoroughly enjoyed my 32 years at Bristol.”
Carol Mignoni Ferguson - “Ken [Bachman] and Fran [Franceschini] taught me in school and I will always be grateful for all their guidance through the years.”
In a message to the parents in attendance, Mignoni Ferguson thanked them for the confiGHnFH WKHy KDG Ln BULsWRO’s teachers.
“You sent the very best to our school,” she said.
Joseph Franceschini - “I wore purple tonight because I feel like a king,” he said to his many cheering former students, referring to his purple shirt. “You always made me feel like a king.”
Karen Pezza - “This evening is about the students we serve and the 21st Century committee. Kids are kids. They all need structure, enriching activities, and someone who cares. The 21st Century Committee accomplishes that.”
Mary Gesualdi - “It has truly been my pleasure, my love and my passion to work with the students and teachers of Bristol Borough.”
Among the dignitaries attending was Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who arranged for the educators to reFHLYH APHULFDn flDJs, HDFK RI wKLFK KDG EHHn flRwn RYHU WKH Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Gene Williams, executive director of the Grundy Foundation and a member of the community center’s oversight committee, said that the night was designed to emphasize the LnfluHnFH WKDW GHGLFDWHG WHDFKers have on youth.
“Education is the cornerstone and the programs at the community center are designed to inspire curiosity, to instill pride in the community, and to have the children learn to give back to that community,” Williams said.
ABOVE, LEFT: From left are Ken Bachman, Band Director; Joseph Franceschini, Retired and Renowned English Teacher; Amy McIlvaine, Committee Chair; Carol Mignoni Ferguson, Retired Kindergarten Teacher; Mary Gesualdi, Coordinator of Federal Programs, Bristol Borough School District; and Karen Pezza, Retired 3rd Grade Teacher & Retired Principal, St. Mark School. ABOVE, RIGHT: Bernie and Gina Mazzocchi, Bernard Mazzocchi and Brianna Mazzocchi Lafferty and Mike Lafferty.