Carolyn Breidenbach is recognized for helping students at P.S. 198
Carolyn Breidenbach, 84, has been named Great School Volunteer of the Year 2013 by Learning Leaders, a non-profit organization that helps NYC public school students succeed early on in their academic careers.
"To teach one child, one thing a day, makes me feel like I've had a good day," said Breidenbach. "I've made a difference."
The NYC native and Upper East Side resident of 50 years has been working for Learning Leaders for the past 12 years. She decided to get involved in the organization after retiring from the Modern Museum of Art as a public affairs assistant, on the suggestion of her son who worked in non-profit as well.
"Prior to my retirement, I didn't do much volunteer work," said Breidenbach.
But she had always been interested in the field of education and how she could put those interests to use.
"I felt there was a need to help with students around the neighborhood," Breidenbach said. "I felt it was something exciting for me to do."
Learning Leaders has been operating in NYC since half a century ago, when it opened in one school with 20 volunteers. Now it's expanded to 300 elementary and middle schools across the five boroughs with over 6,5000 volunteers presently.
"Seeing how much they could do," Breidenbach said about Learning Leaders, "was a place I knew I could help in and enjoy."
Breidenback volunteers her days at P.S. 198 Isadore E. Ida Straus on 1700 3rd Avenue.
One of the Upper East Side resident's most salient moments in her time volunteering was helping an Ecuadorian girl understand English by translating what her teacher would say to her in Spanish. Breidenbach had gone to Vassar College where she majored in Spanish language.
"It made me very happy to make her experience at the school much more meaningful," said Breidenbach.
Each month Learning Leaders selects a top volunteer, who is nominated by a school staff member for Great School Volunteer. At the end of the school year, one is named Volunteer of the Year. Danielle Festa, a parent coordinator for PS 198, had nominated Breidenbach for the title.
"Carolyn is a devoted and compassionate Learning Leader who has worked passionately over many years to enrich the lives of her students," said Fest.
Breidenbach states she is happy with P.S. 198. The school offers a very special atmosphere that contributes to an excellent faculty and student body
With 12 years going, Breidenbach plans to continue to volunteer for P.S. 198 under Learning Leaders.
"Once you have been part of Learning Leaders, you are always a part of it," said Breidenbach.