By Jacqueline Victoria Kapaj-Vieira*/
Good evening, I must say that I am humbled, honored, and at the same time excited to be in your company to receive the award of ‘Teacher of the Year’.
I’d like to express a heartfelt thank you to the Albanian American Women’s Organization for this wonderful honor.
Your loyalty and faith in me is a great asset in the administration of my work as educator and as the President of the Albanian American Educators Association. Today I thank you in words, after today, I hope to translate my appreciation into deeds and conduct.
I’d like to also congratulate Lisa Milicaj for her award for Women of the Year. I knew Lisa as a little girl many years ago and it gives me joy to bear witness to the fine women that she has become. So congratulations Lisa!
I am happy to accept this award on behalf of all the incredible teachers I have known over the years and all of the incredible teachers I know today.
I used to think that the Teacher of the Year was the best teacher around, but I have learned that many of the best educators are far too humble to be recognized easily. However, I can stand here as a symbol of these quiet, hardworking souls who spend their lives serving in the classroom for the good of all of the children with whom they have been entrusted.
Esteemed friend, NYU college professor and political activist, Dr. Shinasi Rama once told me that no one influences a society more than a politician, a clergyman and a teacher.
As a teacher and school administrator, I feel fortunate to belong to a special group of people who can influence and cultivate a society.
Teachers not only impart knowledge but many inspire, guide and support children to become productive individuals in our society. Teachers help their students to develop a passion and love for continued learning that exceeds beyond the facets of the classroom.
Our Albanian heritage embodies firm beliefs in loyalty, generosity and hospitality and these values are the crux of our work as educators.
When I started my career in education there were only a handful of Albanian Educators. Over the years I have met numerous Albanian American educators, but in the last ten years or so, I have seen an influx of young, hardworking and talented Albanian American Educators and Albanian immigrants who are in the educational field.
This exposure prompted me, along with ten amazing educators, to start the Albanian American Educators Association, so tonight I’d like to share my award and acknowledge this group of awesome and talented women that have helped me to develop and grow The Albanian American Educators Association- they are my Albanian Sisters in education and they are here tonight, so I’d like to introduce you to them, so please stand as I say your names,
Drita Gjongecaj 2014 recipient of AAWO of the year
Her daughter Ornela Hasandocaj
Raza Sinanaj her daughter Violet Sinanaj
Please give these wonderful ladies a round of applause for the amazing work they do in education. They all work for the NYC Department of Education and help children and families every day and they have wholeheartedly committed to helping the Albanian Community as well. It is a privilege and honor to know and work with each of them.
I’d like to also thank Elsa Lulaj, an educator and former AAWO “teacher of the year”, recipient for magnifying my work and nominating me for this award.
I must also express my thanks, to my wonderful Mom and Dad who have served as excellent teachers and roles models and who taught me that education, hard work and sacrifice do pay off.
My other thanks go to my dearest friend and Husband Tony, my sister Kristina, my best friend Maggie, and the greatest cousins anyone could ask for, Adrian, Kathy, Vera, Zeena, Alisa and their husbands who also deserve my deepest expression of gratitude for their support and confidence.
Ladies and gentlemen, if this award stands for anything, it stands for the positive influences we have on society- And that we all have the ability to inspire, guide and support one another.
William A. Ward, an American writer for the Readers Digest Magazine and a Bible studies teacher, wrote,
“The Mediocre teacher Tells,
The Good teacher Explains,
The Superior teacher Demonstrates,
And The GREAT teacher INSPIRES.”
As I accept this award on behalf of all teachers I would like to remind everybody that our greatest work is to inspire others.
Thank you so much and God bless you all!”
** AAWO’s 2016 of The Year’Award
March 5, 2016