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Pattie Steffens Honored as Champion of Education


The Ulster County School Boards Association (UCSBA) honored ten volunteers from county school districts with Distinguished Friend of Education Awards on May 24. The annual award honors residents for their dedication and commitment to students and schools.

This year’s honoree from Highland Central School District was Pattie Steffens.

Steffens, an award-winning foreign language teacher at Highland High School who recently retired, embodies the vision of a lifelong educator who continuously creates pathways to enlighten, engage, and collaborate with others. She is not only recognized as an outstanding professional in her craft, but she is equally celebrated for her love and devotion to students and the community.

As a current support provider for students with limited English proficiency, Pattie is a tireless advocate, dedicated to improving student success in the
educational system.

Throughout her career, Pattie led the way in bringing groups together to celebrate and raise funds for various causes and programs throughout the District and Ulster County. The events she planned—especially her beloved Senior Citizen Prom, which continues to this day—are legendary. When her own need arose after the tragic death of her daughter Alicia, Pattie, along with her son Daniel, created the “Love Out Loud” scholarship for graduating Highland seniors.

In many ways, Pattie has not retired at all but has garnered her talents, gifts, and skills to continue to impact the lives of others. She continues to focus her efforts on activities that celebrate diversity, promote acceptance and tolerance, break down barriers, and unify people, such as her work with the Annual Day of Remembrance at the New Paltz Rural Cemetery. This event sets aside a single day to embrace the customs of many cultures and celebrate and remember the departed.

Retired teacher Elise Scott presented Steffens with her award, lauding her “love and devotion to students and the Highland community. Her creative, can-do approach has made her a go-to person, and she is truly dedicated to students. Pattie embodies the vision of a lifelong educator.”

“My school and community are like a family to me,” said Steffens. “Volunteer is a noun, a verb, and an adjective. It’s a wonderful, wonderful word.”

UCSBA President Krista Barringer said the 10 honorees, who were nominated by their Boards of Education, have dedicated themselves to supporting students and schools for many years.

“You’re amazing,” Barringer told the honorees. “You have each touched our schools and students and done more than anyone could have asked. Thank you.”

Other honorees included: Joan and Ken Beck, Ellenville Central School District; Jeramie Collins, Kingston City School District; Maya Eyler, New Paltz Central School District; Heather Roberts, Onteora Central School District; Carl Pezzino, Rondout Valley Central School District; Steve Mower, Saugerties Central School District; Dennis O’Mara, Wallkill Central School District; and Harold King, Ulster BOCES.