, Salem, MA


November 12, 2013

Letter: Honoring a 'Champion for Kids"

To the editor:

More than 100 people gathered recently at the 2013 Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem Champion for Kids Celebration. This year’s honoree was Collins Middle School Principal Mary Manning.

Mary is a native of Salem who began her own schooling at St. Mary’s Grammar School, the present site of the Boys & Girls Club of which she is an active board member. Mary graduated from Salem State College with a degree in English and a minor in education. She continued on to Boston University receiving a M.Ed. in education/recreation, continuing with additional graduate courses there. In addition, Mary completed a M.Ed. in administration at Salem State. Mary’s entire professional career has been with the Salem public schools, including the last 25 years as the Collins principal.

At the celebration, there were funny and heartwarming tributes by those close to Mary who understand her genuine and boundless care for children, especially those who most need an advocate. Speakers included the master of ceremonies, Paul Tucker, Joan Connolly, Charlie Chaurette, Linda Darisse and Peter Baglioni. Although it was a cloudy, cold day outside, inside the affectionate wishes for Mary created a warm and spirited glow.

Also speaking was former Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year Manny Cruz. Manny said he was one of those kids most in need of an advocate. Manny recalled his challenging, yet positive, interactions with Ms. Manning in middle school and then how his troubled spirit was soothed and encouraged when he came to the club as a high school sophomore. Now a successful and motivated college junior, Manny has plans to devote his talent to public service and is often at the club as a volunteer and mentor.

Everyone enjoyed the fine food catered by last year’s honoree Ken Rothwell, as well as the beautiful and delicious cake by Coffee Time Bake Shop.

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