Scholarship named after IS 59 teacher By Ivan Pereira Thursday, June 10, 2010 11:10 AM EDT Com m ent (No comm ents posted.)
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Pamela Smith-Pearson, a Jamaica native and southeast Queens instructor, spent her entire life spreading the appreciation she had for music. When she died of breast cancer in January, her husband, Norman Pearson, said he wanted to keep her passion alive and extend it to future generations of musicians. With the help of some organizations and a concert last weekend, Pearson has set up a scholarship that will enable public school students to learn jazz music at the Jazz Mobile program. “This is a great honor for me and Pamela,” Pearson said. “I get to see her legacy continue.”
100 Black Men of Long Island Inc. President Phil Andrews (from l.), IS 59 teacher Barbara DeBerry and Norman Pearson are raising money for a scholarship made in honor of former music teacher Pamela Smith-Pearson. Photo by Ivan Pereira
The concert was held at the African American Museum of Education & Applied Arts in Hempstead, L.I., and included performances from students who learned their notes from SmithPearson. She died days before her 57th birthday. Other professional artists from the Jazz Mobile also attended and contributed with some pieces as well. The qualifying middle and high school students must be in the public school system in either New York City or Nassau County and audition for the grant, according to Pearson.
teach music at PS 45 in Ozone Park and IS 59 in Springfield Gardens, where she taught from 1993 to 2002. Smith-Pearson and her husband moved to Nassau County, where she continued to teach music in Hempstead public schools until her death. Barbara DeBerry worked alongside Smith-Pearson during her tenure at IS 59 and said her passion for music went beyond the classroom. She helped to start many classical music bands and choruses and even organized a live orchestra for the school’s plays and other live performances while stressing the history and cultural impacts of the jazz genre, according to DeBerry. “She knew not everyone was going to make it in music, but she made everyone appreciate it,” she said. DeBerry said several former students called and e-mailed her when they learned about the charity and offered their support. The charity and scholarship also have the backing of several nonprofit groups, including the African American Museum of Education & Applied Arts in Hempstead and the 100 Black Men of Long Island Inc. Phil Andrews, president of 100 Black Men, said he decided to give to the fund because he was moved at how the musician gave her all in spreading arts to minority students on Long Island. “We believe education is part of our service and without scholarships you can’t get anywhere,” he said. For more information on the Pamela Smith-Pearson scholarship, log on to jazzmobile.org. Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
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