Clifford Nooney of the Guilderland Central School District will be honored with the Capital Area School Development Association (CASDA) Friends of Education Award on February 16 at the Friends of Education Dinner. CASDA presents this award to recognize the selfless contributions of individuals who dedicate themselves to serving students and the school community.
Mr. Nooney is a leader in the Guilderland Central School community. He is the Director of Physical Plant Management, responsible for the oversight of more than one million square feet of building space, 33 acres of grounds and a 52 member staff. Mr. Nooney and his team ensure that every inch of Guilderland’s facilities are clean, safe and functional. Cliff’s work ethic, leadership skills and attention to detail are well known throughout the district. His creativity and foresight have been integral to the development of a solar farm to help meet Guilderland’s energy needs while his community mindedness led him to suggest that the Guilderland School District and Public Library merge their capital construction projects, leading to extensive savings for the taxpayers. While his dedication and competence are admirable, it is his devotion to students that makes him a true Friend of Education.
Over the past 18 months, a student group called the Alliance have advocated for gender neutral bathrooms to support the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming students. They diligently assembled research, cited the State Education Department’s guidance document and disseminated a report from the New York Civil Liberties Union. Several students courageously shared personal stories of fear, pain and frustration. Rather than wait for a mandate from above, Mr. Nooney began to attend meetings held by the Alliance to listen to their stories, concerns and goals. He worked with the administration to identify single use bathrooms that could be designated as gender neutral and urged the administration to develop a clear policy on bathroom use. While the policy was developed he engaged with students, taking input on how to best label gender neutral bathrooms and even mocked up potential signs to solicit feedback. He urged both the Superintendent of Schools and Assistant Superintendent for Business to attend a meeting of the Alliance, so that the administration could better understand the needs and concerns expressed by students.
On December 1, 2016, while a dozen students, two faculty advisors and a few administrators looked on, Cliff and one his crew members hung the sign for Guilderland’s first All Gender Bathroom. Students celebrated and even wept with joy at the sight of this beacon of acceptance, respect and belonging. Clifford Nooney’s compassion and commitment helped to ensure that all students feel safe, welcome and valued at Guilderland. He is truly a Friend of Education.