Celebrating Eileen Kawola

Today is Eileen Kawola’s birthday.  But that’s not the main reason why I’m writing today’s blog.

Later next month, Eileen Kawola is going to receive a very special award.  And once again, it’s another triumph for my old high school, Street Academy / Harriet Gibbons High School.


When I arrived at Street Academy in 1979, Eileen was my student advisor, as well as one of my teachers.  She, along with all the other educators in that three-story building on Clinton Avenue, helped guide troubled students like me from a life of ennui to a life of discovery.  For nearly three decades, she taught a variety of subjects, including history, social studies, and ethics.

She would later take on more challenges, including conducting a literacy program for jail inmates, and working on the board of the local chapter of the history of the Underground Railroad.

And on September 18, she will join several other Albany City School District students and teachers as members of the 2015 Albany City School District Hall of Fame.

This is amazing.  She deserves this honor; it probably should have come years earlier, but it’s here now.  And with her induction, the Hall now includes former Street Academy teachers Milton Horne (2010), Harriet Gibbons (2012), Edward Trant (2012), Don Prosik (2012), as well as its first student inductee – me (2011).

The induction ceremony will take place on September 18 at the Italian-American Community Center on Washington Avenue Extension.  Click here for more information and to download a form to reserve a dinner table.

This is great.  And it’s just another testament to the meaning of what this school meant for generations of students.  I’m definitely proud that Eileen Kawola has received this honor.  And she won’t be the only one, because I know there were plenty of other teachers and students from Street Academy / Harriet Gibbons High School that deserve recognition and consideration for their educational successes.

So in the future, when Lillian Tillman DeWitt, George Mastrangelo, Peter Balint, Bill Newmann, Dorinda Davis, Dewey Hill, Ahmed Naqi, Tony Clement, Sister MaryEllen Harmon RSCJ, Bonnie Diefendorf et al. receive that nomination; and when students like LaRodd Graves, Samson Contompasis, Nikki Holt, and so many more also receive consideration…

It will truly be an honor beyond compare.  And long overdue, too…