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Mohawk grad nominated by NY Daily News for education achievements

By NEWSChannel 2 Staff

A graduate of Mohawk High School and former Utica teacher now working in Queens has been nominated by the New York Daily News for an education award.

Jennifer Yaddaw has been nominated for the Daily News' Hometown Heroes in Education award for building a top music program at Pathways College Preparatory School in Hollis, Queens. She is featured in the Wednesday edition of the New York Daily News where she states that no arts curriculum had ever existed at the school before she got there.

It took five years of work but now Yaddaw has thousands of students under her wing who have been transformed into expert vocalists, drum players and guitar aficionados.

"Being able to read rhythms and notes and perform them - it's another form of literacy," she tells the newspaper.

She adds that when she arrived at the school, if she wanted the kids to make a beat, she would have to have them bang on the desks. Since that time, though, she has created a music program that features several choirs, including an all-female chorus, a record ensemble and a percussion ensemble. The Daily News reports that she has also won grants for acoustic and electric guitars, a bass, a keyboard and percussion instruments.

"It was the coolest experience to be able to watch the entire class pick up an instrument, and by the end of the month, they could play a song," the 31 year old told the newspaper. "Being able to read rhythms and notes and perform them - it's another form of literacy."

She attributed her passion for song from her father, Martin Gertz, who introduced her to the guitar at age 9. From then on, she states to the paper, she was hooked, and she pursued degrees in vocal music and education at the College of St. Rose in Albany.

"I got such a feeling of fulfillment, because that's the goal with music," said Yaddaw to the Daily News. "You don't just have to do it in school. You can take it home and have something to do."

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