Education Foundation names gala honorees


The Rockville Centre Education Foundation will host its 31st annual fundraising Gala on Saturday, April 1, at Gatsby’s on the Ocean near Jones Beach.

Created in 1991, the RVC Education Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to enhance the quality of public education in the community by focusing on programs that enrich, engage, and expand the normal scope of classroom curriculum to foster innovation in the classroom and beyond.

The event is the foundation’s primary source of funding, relying solely on the generosity of its donors in order to help fund new public school initiatives proposed by RVC school district staff to help ensure students are prepared to take on the global challenges that lie ahead.

To date, the foundation has raised nearly one million dollars — a milestone that its members hope to exceed this year.

The honorees for the 2023 RVC Education Foundation Gala are Sharon Sheppard, assistant director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, and Rena Riback, founder of the Anti-Racism Project. Over the last three years, during the Covid pandemic, both Sheppard and Riback have helped give back to the community through Sharon’s Food Pantry.

Sheppard, who was previously named the Rockville Centre Herald’s “Person of the Year” in 2021 for her commitment to the community, said that she is delighted to be honored by the foundation for her efforts to help provide food during the height of the pandemic.

“Just knowing that I am helping people in the community means everything to me,” Sheppard said. “The pantry gives me life. That is my livelihood. It gives me purpose.”

Having been diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer, which has metastasized to her brain, she said that her work with the food pantry has helped her to strive to live even more than before.

“We take so much for granted,” she said. “I get up everyday and strive to be successful.”

Riback said that she hopes, as one of the honorees, people will become more aware of the food pantry and the needs of the community at-large.

“I’m glad the pantry, in particular Sharon, is getting the recognition that she deserves,” Riback said. “I think it’s important because we feed a lot of the school children in Rockville Centre. Without the nutrition to feed their bodies, they’re not going to be able to absorb the knowledge.”

She also expressed how she would like to see more people in the community try and help out the food pantry any way that they can.

“These two women truly understand the meaning of mission-driven, community-based support, and the foundation is thrilled to honor them for their dedication, hard work, and desire to undertake such an important initiative,” Mayda Kramer, president of the RVC Education foundation, said.

South Side High School business department teacher and facilitator, Peter English, will also be presented with the foundation’s Ruth Fins Award at this year’s Gala.

“I am tremendously surprised and excited to receive this honor on behalf of the business department for providing our students with new ways to explore opportunities in business,” English said. 

More than just a classroom teacher — English is a true go-getter who helped pilot the successful International Baccalaureate business management program at the high school, and with his help, rebooted the school’s DECA charter.

“We are particularly excited to recognize Mr. English for his efforts and dedication to the students through the DECA program, which is a program that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management,” Kramer said.

To learn more about the foundation, donations, sponsorships, and grant opportunities, or to purchase tickets for the upcoming 2023 Education Foundation Gala on April 1, visit