2023 WICPTSA Honorary Life Awards

June 14: Cunningham, Gardner, Sadler-Dobosz earn WICPTSA Honorary Life Awards
Posted on 06/13/2023
Picture of winners
From left to right, Kate Sadler-Dobosz, Kim Gardner and Ann Cunningham.

CONGRATULATIONS to Mrs. Ann Cunningham, Mrs. Kim Gardner & Mrs. Kate Sadler-Dobosz! They were announced Tuesday night at Southlawn School as the 2023 winners of the West Irondequoit Central PTSA’s annual Honorary Life Awards. Honorary Life is the highest honor a Parent Teacher Association can bestow to honor people in their school/community!

Ann Cunningham
Board of Education member
West Irondequoit CSD

To say Ann has been a passionate advocate for our schools would be a vast understatement. Most of her life has been intertwined with the district, starting as a student herself and leading to her graduation from Irondequoit High School in 1981. In the next few weeks, her 12-year run being on the West Irondequoit CSD Board of Education will come to a close. That includes two stints as Vice President and President. Prior to that, she was an active parent in the district. Ann and her husband, Thomas, have two daughters – Abby (Class of 2017) and Lily (2022) – who are now IHS graduates. Ann started the Irondequoit Chapter of the MOM’s Club in 2000, became a Listwood “Room Parent” in 2004 and is a former WICPTSA building representative (Iroquois) and VP of School Affairs (2009-11). She founded the Sunset House 5K Run/Fitness Walk and was Race Director from 2000-2005. She also was on the Sunset House Advisory Board from 2006-12. A former registrar at the Summerville Nursery School (2002-04 and 2006-09), she is the Director of Oasis Rochester Center for Lifelong Learning and Wellness.

Former IHS teacher Kelly Mankowski, who presented Cunningham on Tuesday evening and formerly taught her daughters, said Cunningham has always been a staunch advocate for student voice. She wants young adults to be prepared academically but also to be how to mature into “contributing members to the future society.”

“Ann does not like to attract attention or fanfare … She was all about the attention going to others, being sure that those who did the work got the recognition,” Mankowski said. “Well now it is our turn to do the same for you. You’ve done the work on all of the levels because it was right for the kids and right for the district.

Kim Gardner
Math Intervention Teacher
Rogers Middle School

Kim is in her 27th year teaching in the district and is also a graduate of IHS (Class of 1992). The SUNY Geneseo graduate started her career by teaching fourth grade for a couple years at Iroquois Middle School, then taught third grade for 17 years at Seneca School before the past eight in math at Rogers Middle School, which was once her middle school as a student. Colleagues and fellow teachers Kristina Bajardi and Kristin Williams presented her on Tuesday, describing Kim as an “incredible asset to students,” and an educator with a “relentless commitment” to children, one who believes in their potential and uses her personality to make school fun. “The relationships she has with students gives them the absolute confidence that she cares not only about their learning, but who they are as a human. She goes to their games, events and concerts, brings them shoes, provides food and goes out of her way to check on them.” 

“I love my job. I love the people I work with and I love my kids,” Kim said.

Kim volunteers her time to support donations to the Irondequoit Community Cupboard, volunteers at school events and has been a youth soccer coach in Penfield for eight years. She and husband Andy live in Penfield and have two children, Mason (senior) and Morgan (freshman).

Kate Sadler-Dobosz
Reading Specialist/WITA President
West Irondequoit CSD

Kate is fiercely dedicated to her students and colleagues. An Our Lady Mercy High School graduate (2001), she went on to earn degrees at John Carroll University, where she also played lacrosse and ran cross country, and later Nazareth University. She began her teaching and coaching career in Brighton (first grade), but after two years joined West Irondequoit in 2007 as a first grade teacher at Southlawn. She also has coached junior-varsity girls lacrosse for Irondequoit High School since 2008. Kate thrived as a first-grade teacher at Southlawn for 15 years but last year transitioned to reading specialist while also taking over as President of the West Irondequoit Teachers Association, a critical role to support hundreds of educators.

Kate has given of herself both in our district and (Monroe County) county and has made an outstanding difference for both teachers, students and everyone she encounters, especially her students,” said Southlawn teaching colleague, Josh Desilet. ”Kate makes lasting relationships with students all the way from first grade to (high school).”

Kate and her husband, Karl, reside in the City of Rochester. Karl is a special education teacher in Brighton. Their son, Casimir, who is 5, attends Penfield schools as part of the Urban-Suburban Program.

“This honestly means so much, knowing that the community is supporting me,” Kate, who celebrated her birthday Monday, said of the Honorary Life Award. “My students mean everything to me. I do love this district. I am committed to it. I love my coaching, my kids and everybody that’s a part of it. I can’t thank everyone enough.” 


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