By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – On Oct. 1, over 1,000 educators nationwide were surprised to learn their school principal nominated them to receive $1,000 worth of classroom supplies for the seventh annual “A Day Made Better.” The program was created by OfficeMax in partnership with the nonprofit Adopt-A-Classroom to help ease the financial burden of deserving educators. Locally, students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Proctor Elementary School assembled to hear Principal Margaret Donohoe announce the educator she nominated, who was selected to be honored: Sylvia Pabreza, a reading specialist.
“I wholeheartedly support her nomination to be recognized as a teacher for “A Day Made Better,”” Donohoe proclaimed.
Pabreza confirmed that the surprise bettered her day.
“I can's think of a better way to recognize someone than to give all sorts of useful supplies for the classroom,” she said.
Boxes full of supplies were delivered by Jonathan Gosselin, the Marlborough store manager of OfficeMax; Joshua Drury, assistant manager; and Colleen Rhinhart, a sales associate. The honoree also received flowers, a Kindle Fire and an office chair.
After sneaking a peek into the boxes, Pabreza commented, “These are supplies we use all the time across the school. This will certainly be put to good use.”
Pabreza began her career in education in 1981 as a social studies teacher at a middle school in Texas. After earning master's degrees in special education and reading, she worked in various positions in Washington, D.C., New Jersey and New York. From 1996 through 2000, she was a special educator in Shrewsbury when the town had one middle school. Pabreza was the first educator hired by Donohoe when she began as principal in the 2000-2001 school year.
“At the time, my daughter went to school here at Proctor,” said Pabreza, who resides in the school's Northborough neighborhood. “The opportunity to work where my daughter went to school seemed like a perfect match.”
The position has also given Pabreza the chance to share her passion for reading with a variety of students.
“Literacy is the foundation for everything,” she said. “With the reading specialist role, you really get to know all the kids in the school. It's working with students who struggle, and it's also helping to make sure there's a continuity in the literacy curriculum from one grade to the next. One of the fun things about my job is that I's in all the classrooms, so I can really see what's going on in kindergarten all the way up to fifth grade. I think classroom teachers are very devoted and experts at their grade level, but they don's always have that sense of what's happening right below or above them. I feel like the role of reading specialist – whether it's me or anyone else doing it – is useful in the school because you have that K-to-five perspective.”
Pabreza noted that she and her colleagues can get supplies through the school budget, but it can be a lengthy process.
“With the school budget, you have to write your purchase order and wait to have it approved,” she explained. “Sometimes you just need something on the spot, and I think that's when teachers quickly get online or run to the store and get what you need. Teachers want to do their best job, so they don's want to be held back by not having the right material when they need it.”
Proctor School is conducting a “Fill Your Bucket” initiative in which students, teachers and staff recognize acts of kindness.
“We ask, “Have you filled someone's bucket today?”” Pabreza said. “Well, I think my bucket is filled for the year.”