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2013 Woman of the Year in Central Massachusetts

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


"Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth."

--Helen Caldicott, author and peace activist

If Caldicott's quote is true - Maureen Binienda may have been the motivation.

Binienda is called the “Angel of the Battlefield” for the work that she does in Worcester’s poorest school district. In a city where 10% of the kids are homeless, she teaches at the school where the homeless rate for her school is 20% higher.

Since 1978, Binienda has taught at South High Community School in Worcester. She started as a special education teacher and now she is in her 5th year as Principal of South High Community School in Worcester.

Battling Poverty

"South High is one of the poorest schools in the Worcester Public School system. There is a lot of unemployment. A lot of our staff members take leadership roles in dealing with these issues, so it is a group effort. As I mentioned before we deal with their basic needs such as health, hunger, clothing, and eyeglasses," Binienda told GoLocalWorcester.com. The impact is profound. While the test scores are low, they are improving. The result is optimism is area in which optimism is a rare commodity.

Partnership with Teachers

Binienda is a teacher's teacher. She came through the ranks and worked her way up. "Our teachers volunteer their time to stay after school to provide extra academic support. We have up to 120 kids at a time taking advantage of that. We also provide cultural and literacy opportunities in the community with the support of organizations like Hanover Theater. Anytime we can expose our kids to anything in the community, we do. 26 of our staff graduated from this school and we teach kids that education is the great equalizer. One former student even came back as assistant principal. That says so much to the kids they teach and demonstrates that there is no excuse to not move forward," said Binienda.

In low income school districts in cities around the country, wins and losses are scored differently than in affluent suburbs. The learning can't start until kids are safe, fed and have a sense of being.

Binienda has made a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of children in an area of an American city where too often there is not enough focus, caring and commitment.

For these reasons, Maureen Binienda is GoLocalWorcester's 2013 Central Massachusett's Woman of the Year.


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Michael Patrick Lyons

Congratulations Maureen! You are an inspiration!!!

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