Hall of Fame Class of 2019
Leslie Bogucki's career with the City School District of Albany spans 32 years, three schools and a variety of extracurricular activities ranging from athletic coach to theater director. Bogucki began teaching physical education at Pine Hills Elementary (then School 16) in 1986. She later spent two years at Albany High School before moving on to Albany School of Humanities (ASH), from where she retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year. Bogucki didn’t just coach lacrosse – she started the district’s first ever junior varsity program in 2011. During her tenure she also coached volleyball, softball and girls’ basketball – leading the Falcons to the district’s only state title in 1996-97. While at ASH, Bogucki acted as the Jump Rope for Heart Coordinator for more than 20 years, raising more than $200,000 for the American Heart Association. She also directed ASH’s talent show and school musical every year which were performed in ASH’s performing arts center, which was renovated thanks in part to Bogucki’s fundraising efforts.
Teneka Frost has lived a life of public service since graduating from Albany High School in 1994. The Syracuse University (Bachelor of Arts), Albany Law School (Juris Doctor) and University at Albany (Master of Public Administration) graduate cites positive role models and a diverse background for her professional success and current position as Schenectady’s first elected black City Court judge. Previously, Frost served as chief administrative law judge for the Department of State and was director of the state Office of Administrative Hearings. Frost was on the Albany board of education for four years, serving as its president from 2007-2008. Colleagues commend Frost’s judgement, guidance and compassion while friends and relatives applaud the fact that she’s never forgotten her roots from Giffen Memorial Elementary School, William S. Hackett Middle School and Albany High School.
Elizabeth Gaffuri Kearney graduated from Albany High School in 1999 and her prowess and leadership on the girls’ swim team is what qualifies her for the district’s prestigious Hall of Fame recognition. During her five years on the varsity team, Kearney was consistently ranked a top swimmer in section 2 and New York State, ultimately earning the state title in the 200 freestyle her senior year. She also holds several pool and school records: the 200 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay, and she served as captain of the swim team her senior year. Kearney’s contributions to the district aren’t just athletic, however. Former coach Michael Panetta describes Kearney as a role model, epitome of grace and genuine and caring – attributes that benefitted her classmates and teammates.
Bill Ritchie served City School District of Albany students and educators for 30 years. The veteran guidance counselor began at Albany High School and then moved to William S. Hackett Middle school, where he retired in 2007. Ritchie is remembered by countless students whose lives he touched as an energetic and involved mentor who cared about their academic and personal goals. Ritchie became APSTA president in 1992 and served in that position until 2008, working tirelessly during that time to advocate for high quality education throughout the school district. In addition to improving conditions through the labor movement for both students and teachers, Ritchie demonstrated a deep commitment to racial justice, helping to shape union policy on a variety of human rights issues globally, nationally and right here in Albany.
The leadership Demond Shepard, Albany High School Class of 1997, demonstrated on the basketball court has translated to a career and life of service to his country and community. Upon graduation, the three-year starting point guard moved on to the U.S. Naval Academy, standing out as a Division 1 basketball player while at the same time tackling a challenging academic courseload and intense military training. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Economics in 2002, Shepard became an officer in the U.S. Navy for ten years, retiring as a lieutenant. During that time, he served during Operation Active Endeavor and Operation Enduring Freedom and conducted NATO training operations. In his civilian life, Shepard founded, and now manages, two companies: B.H.M Investment Group, a company focused on quality affordable housing and Simply the Best Construction, a development that revitalizes real estate in urban and underserved areas.
The late Sonja Michelle Smith-Summers, Class of 1991, followed in her father’s footsteps while at Albany High School and excelled on the varsity track team. Running became a life-long passion for Smith-Summers and it was a sport she continued privately during her studies at Utica College and even when she joined the U.S. Army in 1993. Just like she did on the track, Smith-Summers distinguished herself in the military, earning the Soldier of the Year award just one year after enlisting. During her 20 years of military service, Smith-Summers deployed to Albania and Iraq, graduated from the U.S. Army Drill Instructor School and earned many military honors and commendations, including 1st Engineer Brigade Drill Sergeant of the Year, before retirement in 2013. Smith-Summers did not rest during her retirement, however. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Columbia University in Maryland and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix. Smith-Summers was a beloved and admired daughter, sister, wife, stepmother, grandmother, friend and colleague before her death from ovarian cancer in 2018.