|At the fourth annual Celebration Event for the East Aurora Educational Foundation on Thursday, October 20, 2016, EAHS principal Dr. Jay Hoagland was pleased to introduce the 2016 James Ford Commitment to Education Award recipient, Christopher Cummins. Mr. Cummins is an English teacher at the high school, a football and track coach, musical and drama director and one of the founders of the Aurora Film Academy. |
“In the classroom, Chris provides a successful learning environment for students of all grades and academic levels,” said Dr. Hoagland. “He teaches with charisma, a positive attitude, a passion for English and he creates a supportive classroom environment. Beyond his impressive and diverse resume, Chris is a person of integrity; he communicates with honesty and always has the best interest of his students in mind. Tonight’s presentation is one of my last duties as Principal of East Aurora School, and it is both an honor and privilege to introduce Chris Cummins as the 2016 recipient of the James Ford Commitment to Education Award.”
The criteria for James Ford Commitment to Education Award include: commitment to the betterment of education in East Aurora, persistent dedication to the cause, creative and original thinking, and involvement in community life.
“In 1983 I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Ford,” said Dr. Hoagland. “I believe he would be very proud of the nomination of Chris Cummins for this award. Chris has exhibited each of the qualities that serve as the hallmarks of Dr. Ford’s contributions to the foundation and the advancement of education in our community.”
Dr. Hoagland quoted a recent EAHS graduate, “Knowing Mr. Cummins while I was in high school has transformed how I learn, what I enjoy doing, even what I believe to be the correct path to take once I graduate from high school in a few months. He is not only a wonderful mentor, but also a gracious and thoughtful person. “ Dr. Hoagland went on to note the local and national achievements of EAHS students, adding, “Chris Cummins is one of the teachers that make our school a special place.”
On Friday following the evening, Chris Cummins commented, “I am so proud to be part of East Aurora as a teacher, coach, director, and participant in the community, regardless of where I live—I consider East Aurora home. Last night's ceremony was overwhelming, not only for the kindness I received from so many people, but also for the realization of what the East Aurora Educational Foundation provides. Quite honestly, I know what I've gained from them, but not the extent to which they've affected the district, which needs them in these financial times. Being recognized feels wonderful, and sharing it with former and current colleagues as well as friends and family, may be the pinnacle of my career (but I hope not:). Also, sharing stories about theater with the Ford children highlighted my evening—ironically, I view theater's importance similarly to James Ford when he directed. An evening like last night could only take place here.”
Prior to the presentation, EAEF president Susan McClaren spoke to the guests about the mission of the Foundation and welcomed them on behalf of the directors: "I welcome all of you this evening –students, community members, teachers, administrators, school board members, and Jim and Kathy Ford, Dr. Ford’s children, who traveled from Chicago and Colorado, respectively, to be here this evening as we gather to recognize the outstanding contributions of this year’s recipient of the James Ford Commitment to Education Award, Mr. Chris Cummins, as well as to support and celebrate the Foundation’s work.
"I would like to acknowledge and extend our heartfelt thanks to Mary Kay and Frank LaForce, who graciously agreed to chair this special event and who, together with their able committee, have exceeded our expectations in every way.
"The Foundation was established in 1988 with about $10,000, to realize the passionate vision of Dr. James Ford: To enhance the educational experience of students in the EA school District. To that end, and to date, the Foundation has quietly provided over $680,000 dollars in grant funding for grants too numerous to mention. I’d like to highlight a few:
• Years ago, the Foundation funded Smart Boards in each of our schools at a time when they were cutting-edge, and before they were a basic classroom tool.
• The Foundation provided necessary and significant monies for the community garden that flourishes today at Parkdale, and represents a collaboration between community members and the Parkdale school to enhance our kids learning opportunities.
• The Foundation provided significant funding to our school therapists to bring the Integrated Listening Systems program into schools, our therapists being pioneers – the first to bring the program into a school setting. The program has had a profound impact on our students with learning differences, helping them to make meaningful developmental, academic and social strides.
• The Foundation has made significant contributions to the art and music programs, and others, and by way of one last example, to the Film Academy, to provide tools and equipment worthy of our teachers and students talents.
"I could go on but I will end with this: To you, Chris Cummins: on behalf of the Foundation, I congratulate you. By your contributions to our students and this community about which many here tonight already know and others will otherwise learn about shortly, you so clearly embody the vision and qualities Dr. Ford held dear; to the teachers present tonight and your colleagues, we encourage you to continue to dream, to come to us with your most creative and innovative ideas – we exist to support you in your passion to best educate our kids. And to all of you, thank you so much for your continued support of the Foundation’s mission – our kids are most definitely worth it."
For more information about the East Aurora Educational Foundation, please visit www.eastauroraeducationalfoundation.org