Gathered around a stage in front of Miami Beach Senior High school, about 200 people came to celebrate the legacy of Principal Rosann Sidener and the renaming the school’s bus lane in her honor.
The event took place on Thursday, shortly after dismissal of the school day.
The Rosann Sidener Way street sign can be seen upon entrance of the school’s bus lane in front of the building. Sidener, an educator for more than 20 years, was overjoyed by the honor — but quickly shared the spotlight with her colleagues and students and Miami Beach High School.
“I love the idea that it’s a way. The Rosann Sidener way. It’s not my way, but the Miami Beach high way,” said Sidener.
“The Beach High way is putting kids first, and celebrating diversity.”
Recently Sidener took a leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment . John Donohue has been the acting principal for the past four months. Although Sidener is on leave, she’s at the school at least three times a week.
Aaron Perry, past chairman of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, came up with the idea to honor Sidener with a street naming. He decided to pay homage to Sidener before she retired from the school system.
“I honestly believe that there is no one in this community who has had a greater impact on our children and our community at large than Rosann Sidener,” said Perry, whose daughter is a former student at the high school. “I mean this woman is all about giving back.”
Perry worked closely with Alan Lips, the current chairman of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, to get the street named after Sidener. Lips said the planning of the street naming took months of work, but was all worth it.
“As a communality person and chairman of the chamber, it is one of our greatest accomplishments by far,” said Lips. “Our mission is to give back to the community and that’s what she does and that’s why we honored her.”
Sidener has many accolades on her resume, but her most recent honor was being named in May of this year the 2012 Principal of the Year by the Florida Association of School Administrators. She has been the principal of Miami Beach Senior High for five years.
Sidener, 57, was diagnosed with cervical cancer, but said the illness has since spread to other parts of her body.
She is a resident of Coral Gables, but also has a home on Miami Beach that she and her husband purchased when Sidener became principal at Miami Beach High.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho spoke to the crowd about how much Sidener had improved the school. He said that she took the school from a D grade to an A grade in just five years. He also stated that Sidener improved the graduation rate from 63 percent to 75 percent.
“All of this she did never forgetting who she is or the reason why she does it,” said Carvalho. “It is that incredible passion and drive that takes us to where we are today.”
Commissioner Jerry Libbin attended the event, representing the city. The Miami Beach Commissioner issued a proclamation declaring Dec. 13, 2012 Rosann Sidener day in the City of Miami Beach.
When called to speak to the audience, Sidener received a standing ovation. Dressed in the school colors of scarlet and silver her outfit showed a touch of Sidener’s deep school pride. She thanked everyone who made the day and street naming possible, but didn’t leave the podium without reminding everyone of her mission as a principal at Miami Beach Senior High.
“I wanted to make sure that every child, no matter if they live on Bay Road and owned their home or whether they are living in a gardener’s cottage and their parents are working as illegal immigrants, gets the same dream, the same opportunity the same support and the same education,” said Sidener.