By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, June 23, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
HAMPTON -- "Service Above Self" is a principle faithfully embraced by Rotary International. And, it's one which a Seacoast area chapter recognized in an educator who recently announced her retirement after almost 40 years in the classroom.
The Hampton Rotary Club proudly named Hampton Academy music teacher Sheila Nudd as their Citizen of the Year for 2006. The honor, presented to a non-Rotary member, brings with it an engraved plaque as well as a $1000 check from the club for Nudd to donate to the charitable cause of her choice.
At their weekly breakfast on Tuesday at the Ashworth by the Sea, Nudd was praised by Rotary members as well as a number of invited guests.
In making his introductions, Rotary's Citizen of the Year Committee Chairman Bob Casassa explained that the award is given in recognition of an individual who "embodies the virtues that we ascribe to, doing it without any fanfare."
Casassa, himself a former student of Nudd's, welcomed Hampton resident Marilyn Green to speak behind the podium.
"If anyone exemplifies the motto 'Service Above Self,' Sheila does," said Green, who served as a co-chairman for Nudd's well-attended retirement celebration held recently at the Elks Club in Portsmouth (see Page 17A in this issue of the Atlantic News).
Nudd's philosophy, added Green, "is 'We must be what we teach.'" In her remarks, Green highlighted Nudd's work with her students and gave several examples of her community service as well.
"It seems every time [some]one turns around, she's helping," said Green, praising Nudd's "generosity of spirit" and the "positive impact" she has made on the lives of those around her.
"Sheila saves people. She never does anything expecting an award," said Green. "She's always willing to go the extra mile, [believing] it was the right thing to do at the time. She always comes through for others."
Pat Bronzo, also a Nudd Party committee co-chairman, called Nudd "a shining example of leadership and integrity." She recalled first hearing the educator described as a "crazy music teacher" with pink and blue streaked hair and a big hoop earring in one ear.
"She did not seek out music, but instead it found her," Bronzo said, adding that one of her children "says Sheila is "a very soulful musician. She doesn't just teach music; it comes from the heart." Another son described Nudd as "hands down, the best teacher."
Following Bronzo's remarks, Casassa shared with everyone a letter penned by Patty McKenzie of the Hampton Community Coalition.
"'Her generosity is extraordinary; her commitment of time and heart are most legendary,'" he quoted. Then, on a personal note before presenting the honoree with her plaque, Casassa said that "the best teachers are those that keep teaching you long after the semester has ended. Sheila Nudd was one of those teachers for me."
Nudd herself was more than willing to share the praise with a multitude of others, insisting that "anything I've done, I've stood on the shoulders of giants; I've stood on the shoulders of giants here in this community."
The check Nudd received from Hampton Rotary, it was noted, will be donated to the Hampton Community Coalition, earmarked for a homeless child whose family has struggled for years.
The Rotary honor came on the heels of the highly successful retirement reception thrown by the Nudd Party Committee. That fete, attended by family members, former and current students and colleagues, friends and many others throughout the community, was held "in celebration of a career spent in service to the greater Hampton community ... turning ideals into action within school walls and beyond."
Emceed by former student (and very big fan) George Hosker Jr., the event was punctuated with numerous speakers and presenters, including NH State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, Hampton State Reps Tom Gillick and Nancy Stiles; American Legion Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello; Selectmen Virgina Bridle Russell (chairman) and William Lally; Sandra Nickerson of the Hampton school board; Holocaust survivors Edgar Krasa and Stephan Lewy (two good friends of Sheila's invited to speak at Hampton Academy over the years); former students Tom Evans and Anthony Bronzo; and HCC's Patty McKenzie.
Musician Brian Hall gave a slide show presentation he had composed, featuring photographs of his former teacher at various stages of her career. The touching presentation included recorded comments in Nudd's own words as well as a musical piece Hall had composed just for the occasion.
Guests were invited to write down their best wishes and congratulations, which will be placed in a special memory book compiled by the committee. Many of these wishes were repeated in the receiving line that heralded the conclusion of the event.
The party was made possible by the many sponsors, friends and members of the community who admire a teacher about whom the following applies: "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove ... but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."