‘Speech­less’ ed­u­ca­tor among five hon­ored at Fall Clas­sic

The Advance of Bucks County - - BRISTOL AREA - By Elizabeth Fisher

Ad­vance cor­re­spon­dent

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.

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