The Mid-Hudson School Study Council is proud to announce the winners for this year’s Educational Leadership Award. The nominated candidates must demonstrate superior educational leadership and accomplishments in their educational environments. These individuals have shown an advanced sense of creativity in meeting the needs of their students. In addition to their accomplishments in the classroom, they have also contributed to the growth of their professional communities. These educators are among the best of the best in the mid-Hudson region.

The Council is also proud to announce that this year's Friend of the Council Award goes to Fr. Kevin Mackin, President, Mount St. Mary College Fr. Kevin began his service as the fifth President of Mount Saint Mary College in  2008. He has served and continues to serve on numerous committees and commissions both locally and nationally. Rev. Mackin has lectured on a variety of subjects, including the Bible, Christian theology, contemporary Catholic and Protestant thought and the Gospels. Rev. Mackin was the ninth president of Siena College from June 1, 1996 to May 31, 2007 and was appointed President Emeritus there by the Board of Trustees. Rev. Mackin has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Monsignor Burns Memorial Award, the Tech Valley Business Hall of Fame Award, The State of New York Legislative Resolution Honor adopted in Senate on May 15, 2007, The Department of the Army's Commander's Award for Public Service, The Marketer Executive Citizen Award of Eastern New York, The Teresian Community Service Award , The Dr. James M. Bell Humanitarian Award and Irish Education 100.

This year's Educational Leadership Award winners are, Ms. Irene Watts-Politza, SUNY@ New Paltz,Dr. Nora Brakas, Marist College, and Dr. Raymond Bryant, Warwick Valley Central School District

Ms. Watts-Politza has been at the state University of New Paltz for more than 10 years. Currently she is the supervisor of student teachers and Ed TPA coordinator. Her work at the college is appreciated and valued by her colleagues. Irene is dedicated and passionate in creating a rigorous environment where education majors can grow and flourish. Her engagement with undergraduate students not only encompasses the New Paltz campus but also drills down into the classrooms of her student teachers. She was always willing to go above and beyond in providing honest feedback that only accrues to the benefit of her students.

Defining and describing Ms. Irene Watts-Politza was best said by one of her colleagues, “she is a highly talented, diligent school leader who models high expectations for achievement and lifelong learning within the school community. She is an enthusiastic and humble colleague who endeavors for the good of the candidates she supervises and the organization for which he works.

 Dr. Nora Brakas is currently an associate professor of education at Marist College. She instructs undergraduate students in childhood education focusing on literacy courses and supervision during the students’ field experiences. In addition, Nora takes the time to volunteer on committees and mentor new faculty assisting them to learn and understand the culture of the school of education at Marist college She has been involved in teacher education for more than 23 years. Dr. Brakas spearheaded a committee that successfully address the standards set by the Association for childhood education international and the Council for exceptional children. As a result of her leadership and the contribution of others, the committee successfully developed, implemented, analyzed assessment that the fulfilled the standards of these associations. As a result Marist College bestowed upon Dr. Barakas its 2013 special recognition award for the school of social and behavioral sciences.

Dr. Bryant began his career as an administrator in 1974 and at the end of this year will retire from Warwick having spent 40 years in school administration. As a result of his leadership the Warwick Valley school district has received national and state recognition for improved levels of academic achievement at the elementary and secondary levels.

His leadership style includes the engagement of all stakeholders in pursuit of student achievement. His success and focus is not limited to the classroom. He understands the value of community engagement. To this end he is assisted in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in community projects for those who are less fortunate.

Dr. Bryant has accepted the challenge of fighting for fair and equitable funding in our region. As a result of his efforts, an organized knowledgeable and effective public education advocacy initiative was started and helped to improve the state aid to public schools in our region.

Our honorees were recognized at the Mid-Hudson School Study Council’s annual dinner held on April 30, 2014 on the campus of Mount Saint Mary in Hudson Hall. The event was attended by approximately ninety family, friends and colleagues.