After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the East Brunswick Education Foundation (EBEF) is ready to celebrate local heroes during its 28th annual Partner in Excellence Dinner.
Partner in Excellence Awards will be presented to educators Dr. Trudy Atkins, Dr. Anna Braun and Lisa Citron; and to attorney David P. Lonski, Esq., in recognition of their contributions to the foundation’s goal to support excellence in East Brunswick’s public schools.
In addition, East Brunswick High School (EBHS) graduates, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Olympian Sam Mattis, will be inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
The dinner will be held at the Pines Manor in Edison on April 5.
Atkins spent 14 years on the administrative team in the East Brunswick Public Schools (EBPS), first as an assistant principal at EBHS, after which she went on to serve as the K-12 Science supervisor, according to information provided by the Office of the Superintendent of Schools.
She later joined the Central Office team as the director of Community Outreach and Academic Support.
Throughout her time in East Brunswick, she took advantage of the grant opportunities offered by the EBEF to fund specialized equipment purchases for the Waksman Program at EBHS and technology to support various aspects of science programming at both the elementary and secondary levels, according to the statement.
Braun picked up a viola when she was a student at Frost Elementary School when she was 10 years old, according to the statement. She played through her graduation from EBHS in 1981 and continues to the present day.
Braun joined EBPS’s Music Department as a strings teacher and orchestra director, sharing her expertise with students at Hammarskjöld Middle School and Churchill Junior High School.
Not only did Braun receive numerous grants from the foundation, she also volunteered her time to work backstage at various EBEF events, according to the statement.
During the 28 years Citron has participated in the EBPS as both a parent and an educator. She became directly involved raising money as a trustee.
In her roles as a special education teacher, an instructional coach and a special education supervisor, Citron collaborated with her colleagues on numerous grants that elevated classroom instruction, according to the statement.
In addition to a host of professional achievements, Lonski, a lifelong resident of East Brunswick, is actively involved in the community, advocating for and volunteering in a number of youth and political organizations, according to the statement.
Lonski’s daughter, Kathleen, a 2015 graduate of EBHS, is a singer-songwriter who attributes realizing her gift for songwriting to a grant from the EBEF to the music department at EBHS, according to the statement.
In an effort to give back to the EBEF, Lonski danced as Elvis Presley in the 2017 EBEF Celebrity Dance-Off.
Alumni inductees Mattis and Gottlieb epitomize EBPS’s mantra, Excellence in Academics, Athletics and the Arts, according to the statement.
Gottlieb graduated from EBHS in 1990. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Wesleyan University and attended medical school at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and completed his residency in internal medicine at the Mount Sinai Hospital.
In addition to serving as the 23rd commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Gottlieb can be seen on Sunday mornings on Face the Nation offering the latest COVID-19 information and advice.
Following his high school graduation in 2012, Mattis attended the University of Pennsylvania where, just as he did during his high school years, he excelled in academics and as a track and field athlete, according to the statement.
In 2015, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association selected him as the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year for Division 1.
Mattis was the only American to reach the final round of the discus event in the 2021 Summer Olympics where he finished in eighth place out of the 12 finalists.
The Partner in Excellence Dinner is the EBEF’s biggest fundraiser each year. There are three ways to support the EBEF via this event: attend the dinner, place an ad or include a message to the honorees in the dinner program; and/or participate in the Spectacular Raffle.
For ticket and sponsorship information, visit www.ebnet.org/ebef
EBEF Support During the Pandemic
When schools closed suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EBEF supported teachers’ efforts to provide the best possible distance learning experience for East Brunswick’s students, according to the statement.
During April and May 2020, the EBEF funded approximately 90 grants totaling more than $30,000.
Included in the mix of requests from teachers were items that allowed teachers to create “in home” classrooms, such as document cameras, mobile whiteboards and headphones. Other requests included leveled books and read-alouds, math manipulatives and science kits for whole class, small group and one-on-one instruction. Additionally, teachers were able to acquire a variety of online subscriptions that enabled hands-on instruction in all subject areas.
With grant funds teachers even arranged for care packages to be sent directly to students’ homes.
To kickstart the 2021-22 return to full-time in-person school, the EBEF encouraged district administrators to submit 3Rs Grants, grants intended to Return, Reenergize and Refresh the curriculum for students and teachers, according to the statement. Funding for this initiative allowed for the purchase of a weather station to enhance the eighth grade science curriculum, a commercial grade laser/cutter/engraver to enrich teaching and learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) classes at Hammarskjold Middle School, a blended learning program that will make it possible for teachers to integrate science and literacy standards for fourth and fifth graders throughout the district, and the equipment to allow all students from kindergarten to grade 7 to experience disc golf.
The combined value of these projects was over $52,000, according to the statement.