By Connor Beach
As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, the Huntington Foundation for Excellence in Education (HFEE) will recognize this year’s choices for District and Community honoree at its upcoming 2018 Reach for the Stars Gala.
The contributions of those honorees — Jarrett Stein, Assistant Principal at Woodhull School, as District Honoree, and brothers Bob and Rich McKean, co-owners of Main Street Nursery, as the Community Honorees — will be celebrated at the gala, which serves as the main fundraising vehicle for HFEE.
Stein, a 47-year-old Commack resident, was the assistant principal at Huntington High School for nine years before taking over as the assistant principal at Woodhull Intermediate School in 2011. “Jarrett is so devoted to the children; he goes above and beyond the call of duty for the students,” Huntington Foundation President Alice Marie Rorke said.
“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my students,” Stein said, and his actions back up his words. From walking a student down the aisle or speaking to a judge on a student’s behalf, to helping students read textbooks or ride a bike, Stein said he wants the same thing for his students at Woodhull as he does for his own children.
Rorke said the names Bob, 49, and Rich, 48, McKean have come up year after year while the HFEE board is selecting candidates for the Community Honoree.
“They are very quiet and very unassuming; without being asked they do so much for the Huntington community,” Rorke said.
As co-owners of Main Street Nursery at 475 Main St. in Huntington, Bob McKean said he became aware of HFEE because he has children in the Huntington School District. McKean said he and his brother are especially proud of the beautification work they do around town, including maintaining the traffic circles.
“We are both very honored to be chosen,” Bob McKean said. “We work hard in the community, and it’s nice to be recognized.”
HFEE was founded in 1993 by a group of parents in the Huntington School District, when an austerity budget was facing the district at the time. “We wanted to allow teachers to fund programs that were not going to be in the budget,” Rorke said.
Rorke added that HFEE has provided funding for countless grants to help educators and students in the Huntington School District over the last quarter century, including the Huntington Robotics Team and various STEAM programs, but the foundation’s sustainability relies on the generosity of big business sponsors who recognize the importance of education. In the most recent school year, HFEE donated $80,000 to the Huntington School District through its two grant programs.
“What we do is difficult, and we are always looking for sponsors to invest in the sustainability of educational programs for the students,” Rorke said. “We are incredibly thankful to all of the people who volunteer and donate to the foundation. We couldn’t do the work we do without them.”
The Reach for the Stars Gala is slated for March 15, 2018 at Oheka Castle in Huntington. For more information on Huntington Foundation and/or the gala, visit Huntingtonfoundation.org.