‘Inspiring’ leader receives high state honors
Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Board of Education member Sylvester Cleary of Forestville recently earned the Anne Z. Paulin Distinguished Service award from the Rural Schools Association of New York State.
The award is named for the longtime RSA chair and given to an individual who has made significant contributions to our state’s rural schools. Mr. Cleary was presented with the honor during the RSA Summer Conference Wrap-Up held July 10-12 in Cooperstown.
“I am obsessed with helping kids,” Cleary said upon receiving the honor. “When we teach our kids, they carry on where we left off.”
Throughout his life, Cleary has made it his goal to use his knowledge and experience to inspire as many young people as possible to better their conditions. He is president of the Chautauqua County School Board Association, President of the NYS Caucus of Black School Board Members, and a member of the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES board.
He is also on the Board of Directors for the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and on the relationship committee for the Cassadaga Job Corps.
“Sylvester is an incredibly positive and inspiring board member — a leader among board members both regionally and at the state level,” said E2CCB District Superintendent David O’Rourke, Ph.D. “This award is a fitting tribute, recognizing his service to the children that our schools serve.”
Cleary earned his degree in Psychology from the University at Buffalo. He served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and was granted top secret clearance while stationed at the Headquarters of the Marine Corps and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. He is a retired banker, who served on the Board of Directors and established the first national diversity program for Fleet Bank.
In addition, Cleary has served in a number of roles, including Vice President of the National Association of Urban Bankers, Notary Public, member of the Jamestown New York Rotary Club, Board member for the Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation Improvement Corp of Dunkirk, Leadership Counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, and a member of ASCAP (Authors, Songwriters, Composers, and Publishers) since 1972. His recent album “Love Is The Way” released in 2019 can be found on Youtube.