According to tradition, 10 Baldwin High School graduating seniors were recently honored by their teachers and asked to speak about three educators who had the greatest impact on them during their academic careers at Baldwin schools.
The In Recognition of Excellence ceremony — held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic — took place May 26.
Board of Education President Annie Doresca introduced each student, who selected three teachers — one from elementary school, one from middle school and one from high school.
The event celebrates students and teachers whose actions have made a difference in one another’s lives. Seniors shared stories about the ways in which their teachers have touched them, both on the scholastic and personal levels. Sponsored in part by a grant from the Baldwin Foundation for Education, the program nominates the seniors based on their contributions to their schools, as well as their character.
BHS senior Regina Gutierrez recalled her days at Lenox Elementary School, where art teacher Lynn Molinari influenced her creativity and served as a role model. Some of her earliest memories of art began with Molinari, Gutierrez explained, adding that she plans to study graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design this fall.
Gutierrez shar-ed her memory of drawing the Eiffel Tower in Molinari’s class and comparing her version with her teacher’s, recalling that Molinari made her feel as though hers was just as good.
“That subtle moment of her encouragement sticks with me in everything I do now,” Gutierrez said, crediting her teacher with her plans to pursue art as a career path. “Ms. Molinari set my foundation in becoming a confident artist.”
The senior also gave a shoutout to former Lenox Principal Bernice-Theresa Acevedo.
“It was inspiring to live under the example of a woman of color leading my community during my formative years,” she said. “I continue to look up to her positive leadership and guidance.”
She also honored middle school teacher Barbara Raniere and high school teacher Michelle Liemer-Kelly.
BHS senior Nicolette Carrion said she was intimidated by high school teacher Alisa Russo when she first sat down in her class. She said Russo challenged her students with 100-page packets and SAT-level questions.
“Then, by the end of sophomore year, I found out that she was going to be the adviser for one of my favorite and most important clubs: Key Club,” Carrion said. “I could come to her class and talk to her whenever. She gave me not only Key Club advice, but also life advice, and, as co-president currently, she always had my back, and I always felt she understood me and understood my tenacity.”
Russo was someone she could confide in, Carrion said, and helped her tremendously. “I guess you could say she’s my school mom,” she said. “She’s helped me along the way by doing what any great teacher does — making their student feel seen.”
Carrion, who will attend Georgetown University in the fall, also honored elementary teacher Denise Heuer and middle school teacher Kathryn Carnacchio.
BHS senior Patrick Mulvey also credited his career path to one of his most impactful teachers, middle school teacher Teresa Leite.
“It was in her class that I really feel that I bloomed as a [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] student,” Mulvey said, “and I can actually attribute the fact that I enjoyed that class so much to the point that I am going to college to study biology. She’s helped me to recognize my career path so I have to thank her for that.”
Mulvey, who plans to attend the University of Delaware in the fall, also recognized elementary school teacher Lynette O’Brien and high school teacher Lauren McCarthy.