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Teachers College Hosts 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration at Apollo Theater


Teachers College Hosts 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration at Apollo Theater

The Teachers College 125th Anniversary Celebration took place in November at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. Leaders in several sectors related to education were honored. Among them were Susan Benedetto ’92 and Tony Bennett, for their contributions to arts education through their nonprofit, Exploring the Arts, James P. Comer, M.D., for his work in psychosocial development as a key factor in children’s educational success, Jeffrey Immelt, for his and GE’s support for education, and Laurie M. Tisch, for her philanthropy and leadership in education, health, the arts and nutrition.

Dr. James P. Comer is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center. He also serves as Associate Dean of the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Comer has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Teachers College since 1999.

Dr. Comer is internationally known for his 1968 creation of the Comer School Development Program (SDP), now viewed as the forerunner of most modern school reform efforts. He is the author of 10 books, including Maggie’s American Dream, Leave No Child Behind, and, most recently, What I Learned in School: Reflections on Race, Child Development and School Reform.

Dr. Comer is a co-founder and past President of the Black Psychiatrists of America. He has served on the boards of several universities and foundations. He was a consultant to Children’s Television Workshop and has served as a consultant, committee member and advisory board member to numerous organizations serving children..

Dr. Comer has received the John & Mary Markle Scholar in Academic Medicine Award, the Rockefeller Public Service Award, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, the Charles A. Dana Award for pioneering Achievement in Education, the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, the John Hope Franklin Award and, the University of Louisville 2007 Grawemeyer Award for Education. He holds 47 honorary degrees and is a member of both the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Laurie M. Tisch is the President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, which strives to increase access and opportunity for New Yorkers.

At Teachers College, where she serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ms. Tisch has been a critical agent of positive change. The annual Tisch Lectureship, created in 1999, features visiting scholars whose work enhances important TC initiatives. TC’s Office of School and Community Partnerships was established in 2007 with a generous gift from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, leading to the creation of the TC Partnership Schools Network in Harlem and the Teachers College Community School. Most recently, Ms. Tisch’s foundation granted $10 million to establish TC’s Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy and to seed capital projects.

Ms. Tisch’s philanthropy stems from her family’s legacy of giving in New York City, from years of experience serving on boards, building institutions, and developing partnerships, and an engaged civic life.

Ms. Tisch is Chair Emeritus of the Center for Arts Education (CAE) and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM). At CAE, she led a campaign which resulted in an investment of nearly $40 million in public and private support for arts education programs in New York City schools. Ms. Tisch led the transformation and expansion of CMOM into a citywide institution that is now recognized as a national leader in health, education, and the arts. 

Currently, Ms. Tisch serves on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors, Chair of the Development Committee and a member of the Executive Committee at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She also sits on the Board  of the Aspen Institute and serves as a co-owner of the Board of Directors of the New York Football Giants.

In partnership with the NYC Department of Education, in 2001 Susan Benedetto and Tony Bennett opened a new public high school, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, located today in Astoria, Queens. At the same time, they co-founded a nonprofit organization, Exploring the Arts (ETA), whose mission is to transform the lives of young people through arts education. Exploring the Arts has grown from serving the Frank Sinatra School in its early years to now serving 14 public high schools located in all five boroughs of New York City, as well as three public high schools in East Los Angeles.

Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, Tony Bennett grew up in Queens during the Great Depression. He was educated at the High School of Industrial Arts and later worked as a singing waiter before his talents were discovered by the famous performer, Bob Hope. Tony has a career spanning from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s - and now, in the first two decades of the 21st century.  He has introduced a vast array of songs into the Great American Songbook which have since become standards of pop music.
Tony has won 17 Grammys (including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award) and sold millions of records. He was awarded 7 Emmy Awards for his television special, “An American Classic,” is a Kennedy Center Honoree and an NEA Jazz Master. 

Tony was honored by the United Nations with a Citizen of the World Award. He has collaborated with, among others, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

Tony is an accomplished painter who has exhibited and sold work internationally. His paintings are part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington DC, the National Arts Club in Manhattan, NY and the Butler Institute of American Art Museum in Youngstown, Ohio.

Tony has authored four books. They include his official biography, two books devoted to his artwork, and the recent best seller, “Tony Bennett: Life is a Gift.”

Bay Area native Susan Benedetto received her B.A. in History from Fordham University and her M.A. in Social Studies from Teachers College, where she was also certified and licensed as a NY state teacher. She began her Social Studies teaching career at Manhattan’s prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts. Susan later returned to Fordham and in 2005 received another MA, this time in Supervision/Administration.

Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE, has held several global leadership positions since coming to GE in 1982, including roles in GE’s Plastics, Appliances, and Healthcare businesses. In 1989 he became an officer of GE and joined the GE Capital Board in 1997. A couple years later, in 2000, Mr. Immelt was appointed president and chief executive officer.

Mr. Immelt has been named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” three times by Barron’s, and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been named “America’s Most Admired Company” in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one of “The World’s Most Respected Companies” in polls by Barron’s and the Financial Times.

Mr. Immelt was the chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Mr. Immelt earned a B.A. degree in applied mathematics from Dartmouth College in 1978 and an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1982.

The GE Foundation, GE’s philanthropic organization, works to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems, focusing its efforts in the areas of health, education, the environment and disaster relief. In 2008, Teachers College received a $5 million grant from the GE Foundation to create an intensive new partnership with a group of 10 public schools in Harlem. The College has used the grant to build the partner schools’ capacity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction.#



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