FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MAY 23, 2019 • BUZZ • THE QUEENS COURIER 63
“Caroline, or Change” Earns Ovation at APAC
East Elmhurst teacher stunned to received STEM award
BY MARK HALLUM
Greg Grambo has spent over 41
years teaching STEM to students at the
Louis Armstrong Middle School in East
Elmhurst, which he described as a calling
that goes beyond simply making students
Th e level of care Grambo puts into his
students have left a mark across generations,
according to speakers at the WNBC
Star Teacher Award for Excellence in
STEM Education on Th ursday. Th ey were
part of the award presentation for the science
instructor who not only holds a doctorate
but spent time working with NASA.
But Grambo’s background in aeronautics
is something he would rather not discuss,
as it is less important that the role
he wishes to play in his students’ lives,
As part of the Star Teacher award,
Grambo was given a plaque and $1,000
for classroom supplies.
“Every child is diff erent, you have to fi nd
out what makes them tick. Sometimes you
give out pieces of work and all you care
about as a teacher is getting it back. Th en
you fi nd out that when they go home
they have to take care of their brother or
grandmother, the piece of work that you
give them is the most minimal thing in
their life,” Grambo said.
Grambo focuses on helping kids fi nish
their work at school, and when his students
need something such as supplies, he
sees it as his duty to step in and provide.
“It’s all about the kids, you’re here for
them and there are other jobs you could
take,” Grambo continued.
According to John Durso from WNBC,
out of over 100 entries into the contest,
only three across the city were chosen
for the award which was given during
an assembly at which was a surprise to
Grambo who stood quietly at the wings of
the auditorium until his name was called.
Normally, the lifelong educator would
have a hand in every event at the school
and found it strange that the purpose of
the assembly was kept from him.
“Th ere are times where there’s money
gap, I’ve seen in the past where if a school
can operate on a dollar, the following year
you get 50 cents,” Grambo explained. “I’ve
also seen that the better your children
do the more funds get cut … You do get
teacher’s choice money and you get a certain
amount of money to buy supplies,
but there’s a lot of times where you just
want to help.”
Grambo explained that there is a student
in one of his classes whose backpack
was falling into disrepair with broken zippers
and stitching falling away.
Aft er rounds of stapling the backpack
together, Grambo decided it was time to
buy the student a new backpack.
“At what point do you just let him walk
around like that, at some point the kids
are just going to make fun of him or he’s
going to just carrying things around. You
just get him a backpack,” Grambo said,
explaining that what he does is no diff erent
from other teachers at the school.
Telemundo 47’s Tairy Ynoa, also from
East Elmhurst, presented the check alongside
WNBC weatherman Dave Price and
John Durso, with the award sponsored by
Raymour & Flanigan.
Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
Th e tumultuous 1960s face a diff erent
kind of scrutiny in Pulitzer Prize winning
playwright Tony Kushner’s 2004
drama, “Caroline, or Change”, with music
by Jeanine Tesori. Unfolding in the Deep
South, a transplanted New York household
and an impoverished local family
are swept away by life’s injustices. A little
boy and his beloved maid Caroline are the
focus of these inequalities.
Eight year old Noah Gellman is skillfully
portrayed by Sabatino Cruz. He off ers
just the right amount of childlike vulnerability
and budding maturity with an
excellent singing voice. His adult parental
fi gure is Caroline, the family’s bitter,
oft en pessimistic maid. Both are signifi -
cantly wounded emotionally. Played by
LaDonna Burns, Caroline’s magnifi cent
voice and commanding presentation earn
a standing ovation.
Th e musical’s metaphors deliberately
confound the audience as inanimate
objects come to life. Th e stunning “Moon”
(Joel Rene) is dressed in white from head
to toe. Her reassuringly powerful voice
off ers calming aff ection throughout the
play’s rocky storyline. Th e intimidating
local “Bus” (Tony Perry) with blinding
headlights for eyes is not as kind. Th e
“Washing machine” (Marcie Henderson)
sings tirelessly of life’s responsibilities. Th e
“Radio” comes to life as a Greek chorus
of 1960s song stylists (Amanda Bailey,
Nattalye Randall and Joel Rene). Th e
“Dryer” (Tony Perry) torments Caroline
at every turn.
With some clever humor and some deeply
serious comments from leads and supporting
players, the audience is reminded
that this play has profound meaning.
Th e title’s “change” suggests society’s moral
mandate for a meaningful metamorphosis.
It also serves as a warning when the loose
change in Noah’s pockets are off ered to
Caroline as inadvertently off ensive charity.
Director Dev Bondarin, choreographer
Kemar Jewel, musical director Minhui Lee,
scenic designers Christopher and Justin
Swader, costume designer Marissa L.
Menezes along with the entire creative and
production teams deliver another impeccably
The sometimes excessively stereotypical
players are showcased at the
Chanukah party (Lauren Singerman,
Scott Mendelsohn, Greg Horton, Navida
Stein, Gordon Stanley) and by Caroline’s
children Sharae Moultrie, Milanis Clark
and Nave Murray) and her friend Dotty
Astoria Performing Arts Center, now
housed at the Variety Boys & Girls Club,
showcases highly professional talent on
both sides of the footlights. For information
on this and future projects, click on
www.apacny.org or call (718) 706-5750.
As always, save me a seat on the aisle.
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