Celebrating the 2021 Excellence in Education Awards May 2

pictured here: Terrance and Nina Heard: Their Mission To Elevate Educators Began 23 Years Ago  (photo  Richard Blanc )

When Terrance L. Heard, a former Buffalo teacher and entrepreneur, returned to Buffalo in 2012 he saw a need to help uplift a message of greatness in his birth city.  

Prior to moving to Atlanta for a new career opportunity, Terrance served as an educator for the City of Buffalo teaching History and Electrical Shop at Seneca Vocational High School in addition to serving as an Assistant High School Coach for basketball, football, softball, and soccer programs. 

Elected in 2019, he currently  serves as an At-Large Member for the Buffalo Board of Education.  

Terrance found the perfect partner when he married Nina S. Heard, a native of Detroit Michigan and General Motors Global Supply Chain Executive.  Nina  embraced the love of community. Her list of volunteer activities range  from serving as a board member for Every Person Influences Children(EPIC) and the American Cancer Society of WNY, to  the Northland Workforce Training Center  and a volunteer with  the Willie Hutch Jones Educational & Sports Program. At one point she even served as National Pre-Teen Choir Director for Church of God, Inc. in Nashville, TN .

Together Terrance and Nina quietly created Friends for a Better Buffalo in 2015 with a vision to create an organization that serves to  Connect, Advocate, Serve as a Resource, and Educate residents in Buffalo and throughout Western New York. Friends For A Better Buffalo, a 501(c)(3) not for profit, consists of a group of Western New Yorkers who take pride in their region and work together to establish and promote positive community events.  

Last year the organization  introduced  and hosted their signature event, Excellence in Education Awards Buffalo   with the goal of elevating the work of outstanding  Buffalo   teachers, principals, and support staff.    Due to the COVID pandemic, 2020 was a challenging year to host such an event, however it motivated the founders and committee to quickly pivot and reimagine  the in-person event to create an engaging virtual awards  experience  that was televised on WBBZ TV. 

“It was important to move forward. The work and contributions of many of our Buffalo educators are often unknown and unrecognized,” stated Terrance     

“It was a privilege to recognize the 2020 Excellence In Education Award finalists’ commitment to Buffalo and Western New York and to celebrate them for being an unyielding force for our students and the community,” added Nina.

Leading up to the this year’s awards event the committee has highlighted educators and finalists on social media and hosted a pre-event red carpet stroll and photo session.  

“During this unprecedented time across the world, where educators had to adapt quickly to teaching virtually rather than in person, we are excited to announce the opportunity to salute and celebrate teachers, support staff, and administrators, our unsung heroes in Buffalo public, private, and charter schools,” stated Terrance Heard. 

This year the organization received 400 nominations!  

“We were thrilled and very proud that residents and educators understood the dedication and took the time to recognize their colleagues and local educators. The downside is that the committee cannot award all the nominees,” stated Nina Heard. 

Excellence in Education  will recognize and award some of the best educators throughout Buffalo. Out of 400 entries this year,  125 were selected as finalists  who will be recognized on May 2.    The virtual  celebration, scheduled to kickoff Teachers Appreciation Week,  will air as a premier virtual black-tie event telecast Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. across the eight   counties of Western New York on WBBZ-TV (channels 67 and 5), as well as simultaneously on the Excellence In Education Awards Buffalo Facebook page.

This  year’s accomplished  emcees include  Kameron Woods, a Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts graduate and actor, film director, assistant director and producer, and Emily Lampa, cohost of the AM Buffalo, a multiple award-winning journalist.  In addition, Daniel Croix, a film, television, and theatre actor, will provide encouraging remarks dedicated to the finalists and Buffalo Public School students. Daniel, who  currently stars in the white-house drama ‘The Oval’ on BET as Jason, son of the president, attended high school at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.

The public is invited to an enjoyable evening watching the the 2021 winners, talented entertainers, presentations by Buffalo community leaders and special guest appearances.   

  In a joint statement the Heards issued a thank you to their sponsors.

“We would like to thank our dedicated sponsors and supporters which include but not limited to: Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, BlueCross BlueShield WNY, Buffalo Teachers Federation, Independent Health Foundation, M&T Bank, and G-HEALTH/GBAUGHN (Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare and  Media sponsors such as The Challenger Community News and WUFO Power Mix 1080 and Power 96.5 .”

To learn more about the event and Friends for a Better Buffalo visit their Facebook page @ExcellenceinEducationBuffalo and website at www.friendsforabetterbuffalo.org.

-Submitted by Jennifer J. Parker