At the end of each school year, we celebrate our partners who have gone above and beyond in their roles as mentors and educators at the annual Academic Mentor Party (AMP). Due to the current public health crisis brought on by COVID-19, the annual AMP Awards Ceremony, typically held in June, has been postponed to a later date to be determined. However, we would still like to recognize those exemplary partners who exhibited the hard work and dedication it takes to make a lasting impact on the lives of students.

The John C. Rennie Mentor of the Year embodies what it means to be a Boston Partners in Education academic mentor. This mentor becomes an integral part of the classroom by embracing the role of friend and role model.

2020 Recipient: Alison Gross, mentor at Alighieri Montessori School

Alison Gross has volunteered with Boston Partners for the past four years. She has an educational background in child development, sociology, and education policy. Alison has always had a passion for education and an interest in the structural barriers to educational opportunity. She became an academic mentor because she wanted to help ensure that all students have access to an excellent education. Alison has worked in the Boston Public Schools at the classroom, school, and district level, and now works at a foundation as a Program Officer in Education.

“The children she has mentored love to work with her, love doing academic work with her, and ask for her when she’s not there. A child she worked with for two years completely transformed – he now displays a level of self-control not witnessed in his earlier years. I am confident to say that Alison’s work with him played an important role in his transformation. She is dedicated, giving, and kind.” – Montessori School teacher

The Betsy A. Nelson Educator of the Year Award is presented to an educator dedicated to providing students with extra support through in-class mentorship. The educator demonstrates a commitment to Boston Partners’ mentors by making them truly feel like a member of their classroom.

2020 Recipient: Ms. Jada Brown, teacher at Mission Hill K-8 School

Ms. Brown has been a dedicated teacher at Mission Hill School for 18 years. She has also included Boston Partners volunteers in her classrooms for the past ten years. Ms. Brown credits her partnership with Boston Partners and their mentors for demonstrating the importance of different perspectives and extra support in the classroom. She believes that having volunteers in the classroom to provide students with one-on-one support helps her continue teaching in an efficient and effective way. Mentors in Ms. Brown’s class are always a valued and welcomed member of her classroom community.

“Jada Brown is an educator who works to make sure her students have access to the tools, resources and curriculum that allow them to thrive. The volunteers that work for her not only enjoy working with the children, but with Jada as well. Along with gaining the satisfaction of helping the students, they also gain a new community in Mission Hill School and a new friend in Jada. She becomes the volunteer’s advocate, mentor and biggest cheerleader! She opens her classroom community to all. It is her goal that they will feel at home and that their contributions are appreciated.” – Mission Hill K-8 staff member

“Having a completely student-focused determination, Jada gives countless hours to the development and implementation of vital plans for student success. After years of working with Jada Brown, I am still amazed and honored to be a part of her legacy of shaping generation after generation of kind, intelligent, and socially responsible individuals.” – Boston Partners volunteer

The Joyna Bozzotto Award is presented to a mentor who has volunteered with Boston Partners in Education for five or more years. The recipient embodies the spirit of commitment and proves that dedication and commitment are integral to the effectively supporting students.

2020 Recipient: Nick Breitstein, mentor at Jackson/Mann K-8 School

A Boston Partners volunteer for over eight years, Nick has developed strong relationships with BPS teachers and students. A native Bostonian and former business owner, Nick spent most of his life in the business world before finding a passion for education in retirement. From volunteering in elementary schools to eighth grade classrooms, Nick has partnered with six teachers throughout his tenure as a Boston Partners mentor. He believes the best part of volunteering is learning something new from his mentees and building relationships with their dedicated teachers.

“Nick has been an incredible mentor over the years – the past two years he has been matched in Ms. Lewis’s classroom. He is very flexible and dedicated. If he has to miss a day in the classroom, he will always make it up. He studies up on the lesson for the day and always comes to class with a positive attitude willing to help any student.” – Boston Partners staff member

The Pamela L. Trefler School Partner Award is presented to a school that truly invests in its community partners to create additional support systems for students. This school values the contributions of Boston Partners’ volunteers, often going the extra mile to make the mentors and programs welcome additions to the school.

2020 Recipient: Madison Park Technical Vocational High School

There are so many things that make Madison Park a unique place to learn – the most notable being that the school has twenty career and technical education programs spanning a variety of industries. Madison Park helps students find their true passion during their high school experience to ensure future success. The school supports students with opportunities for internships and co-ops as well as hands-on learning and real world experiences. The partnership between Madison Park and Boston Partners in Education allows teachers to have volunteers in the classroom that can provide significant, one-on-one support to their students.

“Madison Park has been proactive in ensuring all of their volunteers have the tools and resources they need to have a great mentoring experience.” – Boston Partners volunteer

The Nicholas A. Lopardo Corporate Partner Award is presented to an organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities for students in the Boston Public Schools. This organization prioritizes a company culture that promotes volunteerism and actively encourages staff to become mentors in the Boston Public Schools.

2020 Recipients: Capital One Seaport Café – Lydia Nicholls, mentor at Burke High School, David Brown, mentor at Boston Arts Academy, & Shawn Rosier, mentor at Boston Arts Academy

Capital One Seaport Café has been a partner with Boston Partners in Education for nearly three years and has supported the organization in a variety of ways. The Café has hosted several Boston Partners volunteer appreciation events – including the annual Winter Warmer – and graciously made space for Boston Partners to continue interviewing new mentors while we moved offices this winter. Capital One Seaport Café also encourages their ambassadors to volunteer as mentors, not only because it aligns with company values, but because volunteering allows ambassadors to give back to the community in a meaningful way.

“Capital One Seaport Cafe continues to support Boston Partners in Education in such a variety of ways. They have hosted our fundraisers and events for the past two years and many of their ambassadors volunteer and advocate for Boston Partners in Education in the community.” – Boston Partners staff member

The recipients of the Isabel Besecker Award have demonstrated a passionate support of public education. They involve friends, family, and the community in the cause of providing excellent education to all students.

2020 Recipients: Catherine & Vincent O’Byrne, mentors at McKinley South End Academy & Blackstone Elementary School

Mentors Catherine and Vincent O’Byrne are a married couple who live in the South End of Boston. Just a short distance away from their home, the O’Byrnes volunteer together at McKinley South End Academy twice a week. The O’Byrnes share inspiring stories from their mentoring and encourage friends and family to participate in supporting local education. Volunteering at the McKinley has allowed the O’Byrnes to build personal relationships with educators and students and they enjoy giving back to their neighborhood by supporting classrooms at their local school.

“We love volunteering at the McKinley because it’s in our neighborhood – it’s good to give back to the community. You feel there is a need here and that you can actually contribute in a positive way.” – Catherine & Vincent O’Byrne

The Pamela Civins Rookie of the Year Award is presented to a first year partner who has immediately demonstrated a deep understanding of the commitment that academic mentoring requires.

2020 Recipient: Ms. Jennifer Salazar, teacher at Fenway High School

This is Ms. Salazar’s tenth year as a Boston Public Schools teacher. After recently partnering with Boston Partners in Education, Ms. Salazar sees the true value in having mentors in her classroom. She enjoys watching shy students open up and build relationships with their mentors and having other adults in the classroom to share their knowledge and experiences. One of her favorite aspects of working with Boston Partners is seeing mentors arrive early to class and connect with the students on a more personal level. Ms. Salazar believes in the value of mentorship and the benefits of having support through all different stages of life.

“Ms. Salazar is extremely supportive of her students and her curricula is all about representing the marginalized histories in public education. As a mentor, I also felt supported by her and she constantly gave me positive reinforcement. Her passion for teaching and equity clearly shows through in all her classes and I felt very grateful to be in her class.” – Boston Partners volunteer