Teachers, students and faculty gathered in the cafeteria of P.S. 254 (1801 Avenue Y) yesterday to honor the passing of a longtime school aide by renaming the facility Mary Colgan cafe in her memory.
Colgan served 43 years in the New York City school system, first at P.S. 52 on Nostrand Avenue, and then at P.S. 254, where she stayed for more than 33 years. She passed away from cancer on September 21, 2013.
The beloved school aide was born May 13, 1935, and grew up with a large family of 11 brothers and sisters. She married Ronald Colgan in 1955, and had two children, Donna and Ronald, who she raised in Sheepshead Bay. In addition to her six grandchildren, Colgan found herself with an even larger extended family – that of the entire P.S. 254 community – which grieved her passing.
The Tuesday ceremony featured student performances in her honor, while colleagues, students and her family shared recollections. In addition to renaming the cafeteria, the school is launching the “Mary Colgan – You Have to Believe Award,” which will be given to a student leader who fosters a positive attitude.
Here’s the statement from the school:
Mary Colgan’s NYCDOE Start of Employment was January 1, 1970 at PS 52, and then start of employment in our school, PS 254 was September 8, 1980. She worked in our school for over 33 years. She devoted a great amount of her life to providing the BEST opportunities to students in our school community. From ensuring a safe morning arrival, supervising breakfast being served, requesting busing for school/class trips, monitoring student daily attendance, to calculating after school snacks, calling parents, distributing/receiving/organizing important legal school documents to directing an Extra Curricular After-school program for the Greater Sheepshead Bay; she did it all and then some!
Mary Colgan’s face, spirited voice, and her passionate work mostly took place in our school cafeteria each day. She ensured the safety of our students who arrived early on the school bus, that those students who needed to eat breakfast, did so, timely and that they had enough recess-time before morning line-up at 8am.
Mary was an active, outspoken member of several school committees such as: the SLT, Safety/BRT, Attendance and subcommittee member for various school Performances, such as a Ticket Agent/Distributor and Collector, Ice Cream Purchaser and School Trip Coordinator. She also believed in the importance of UNITY. She diligently represented and supported school DC37 Union members as their Shop Steward. These are just few titles and duties Mary Colgan upheld to the best of her ability however, she did WAY MORE than just maintain these responsibilities.
Mary added joy and sometimes a sprinkle of humor to the school’s Main Office as she sat at her desk situated at the very front counter. She welcomed concerned parents, visitors of many titles; from Mom, Dad, Sibling or Relative to Superintendent, District Representative, Salesperson, Prospective Educator, Substitute or Teaching Observers completing their Educational Prep Courses. Mary was the First Impression of the Heart of our school. She demonstrated the general pulse of the school without hesitation as guests arrived. She always remembered that she herself was a Mother, Sister, Aunt, Grandmother, and Wife and therefore treated our guests as if they were a member of this school family. She never hesitated to help ANYONE or to give a SWEET TREAT to someone in our school community.
Her passion was for the child who needed it the most. Whether their needs included: nurturing, daily structure, routine, a commanding voice, a soft voice with a Grandma-like hug telling them that they are special, a coat, supplies, or some extra food; Mary gave it to them! At times she may have said “I don’t care!” The reality is, she DID care and sometimes she cared so much that she was frustrated with the limited outcomes or results she saw in short time periods. She ALWAYS gave to those special students that may have been looked at as needing a little more than the norm because they held a special place in her heart as she did in theirs!!!!
Mary rarely missed work unless she had to go shopping for more matching JETS or METS apparel to wear on T-Shirt Tuesday. However, on a more serious note, Mary worked through her colds, coughs and illnesses. She truly LOVED coming to our school each and every day. She was frustrated and saddened when she took ill and just couldn’t beat the discomfort she was in. Each day, she attempted to continue to walk the 12 blocks to and from home to get to work. She finally gave in and accepted car rides from her colleagues at least on the days of inclement weather. Mary fought through and made her impact on all of us in our school community, all the way up to the very last day of the 2012-13 School Year.
When we think of Mary Colgan… we think of a STRONG-MINDED, PASSIONATE WOMAN, who was a DEDICATED, ORGANIZED, HARD WORKER, with PRIDE and CONFIDENCE. She was a SPORTS FAN, DAILY NEWS Reader, SMOKER, LOUD & OUTSPOKEN, TELL-YOU-LIKE-SHE-SEES-IT kind of woman. She was SELFLESS and GENEROUS, THOUGHTFUL, THOROUGHLY ENCOURAGING, SUPPORTIVE and truly a GREAT FRIEND! We were very fortunate to have had her in our school community for such a long period of time.
Mary Colgan is and will always be missed at PS 254 but she will remain in our hearts and memories.