Monday, October 5, 2009

Honoring Ethel Abrams, NPHS Hall of Famer

Gerry Garatino Burns provided the night's most stirring moments with a powerful, emotional and dead-on accurate assessment of what Ethel Abrams meant to her students. (Gerry above with NPHS principal Jerard Stephenson and Ethel Abrams' sister-in-law Carol Pines.) Gerry recapped Mrs. Abrams' career (and she will be forever Mrs. Abrams -- not Ethel -- in my mind) starting with her first job as a social investigator for the New Jersey State Board of Child Welfare in Newark. Never knew that. After a few more fascinating biographical details, Gerry launched into the meat of her speech.

She was an extraordinary woman who loved and cared for every student who crossed her path. She always saw the good in everyone. She had such compassion for those who suffered and always extended a hand or shoulder to those in need. She was a teacher whose day extended long beyond the classroom. Always there whenever a student needed to talk, needed some guidance, or needed a friend. She taught us to never give up, set goals and reach for the stars.

Ask me who my favorite teacher was...I'll answer Mrs. Abrams. And I've heard that answer over and over from many NPHS graduates. It was Mrs. Abrams who brought me out of my shell, encouraging me to get involved outside the classroom and join clubs. It is because of her that I had the confidence to become a leader in high school, pursue a career as a nurse and later become a community leader in North Plainfield.