To begin their day, children in Judy Reilly’s first grade class at Walnut Square School join in her in a sing-along of “What a Wonderful World.”
That popular song, made famous by jazz great Louis Armstrong, is just one example of Reilly teaching her students to appreciate our world and all of its wonders.
The love and passion she has brought to teaching since 1961 was recognized last week when the Haverhill YMCA named Reilly its Educator of the Year. She is the fourth person to be honored since the program began in 2009.
“I just love it,” Reilly said about her career, which has spanned 49 years. “Children are like little sponges and just love to learn.”
Not one to bring attention to herself, Reilly prefers to lavish all of her attention on her students. So it came as no surprise to those who know her that that when her name was announced during the awards ceremony at DiBurro’s function hall, she accepted the award with gratitude and humility.
“I was very surprised and humbled,” she said. “There should be more awards for other teachers who work so diligently and are so dedicated. Every teacher should be teacher of the year.”
Haverhill YMCA Executive Director Tracy Fuller said honoring a top educator is in line with the YMCA’s mission of focusing on youth development.
“She’s an icon of education in the city,” Fuller said about Reilly. “We feel privileged to be able to recognize educators in our city. Teachers are unsung heroes in our community.”
Reilly was nominated for the award by Kim Braiser, a parent of one of Reilly’s former students.
The Haverhill YMCA, in its 158th year and located at 81 Winter St., also honored Pentucket Bank and state. Rep. Brian Dempsey with Commitment to Community awards.