By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Heather Ann Fiorica first became involved in educational advocacy when her daughter Brieanne was a student at PS 177 in Bensonhurst. “My daughter was a special needs student and I became active so I could make sure that I pushed for the services she needed,” Fiorica told the Brooklyn Eagle in an interview on Tuesday.
Fiorica, who considers herself an active partner in the education of her child, served as co-president of the PTA of PS 177 and was on the School Leadership Team. When Brieanne graduated and moved on to David A. Boody Intermediate School, Fiorica moved on too, becoming president of Boody’s PTA. She is also on Boody’s School Leadership Team, where she spends countless hours with her executive board organizing activities and planning events for the students.
Fiorica is perhaps best known for her role as president of the Community Education Council (CEC) of School District 21, a panel composed of members elected by PTA leaders in the district to represent the interests of parents and students in dealings with the New York City Department of Education and with lawmakers.
“I became active in the educational community because I never want another parent to have to go through I went through; dealing with a confusing and frightening school system trying to your questions answered about the services your child deserves,” she said.
“I’ve made it my mission to be there for the parents; to get their questions answered, and to do my best to make their children’s education better,” she said.
In her capacity as CEC president, Fiorica led a fight to keep the city from putting charter schools in two District 21 schools, Seth Low Intermediate School, Joseph Cavallaro Intermediate School. The fight was ultimately unsuccessful, as the de Blasio Administration allowed the co-locations to move forward. But Fiorica, working with her CEC 20 counterpart, Laurie Windsor, garnered citywide attention for organizing protest marches outside the schools and starting petition drives.
For her advocacy on behalf of children, Fiorica was recently named a “Surrogate Mother of the Year” by the Shorefront Toys for Tots organization and accepted her award at a recent luncheon at Sirico Caterers on 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights.
“It meant a great deal to me. I feel like all of the children in the district are my children,” she said.
Brooklyn Daily reported that the luncheon was packed with more than 200 people.
Shorefront Toys for Tots founder Brian Gottlieb started the organization, which provides gifts for underprivileged children in southern Brooklyn with gifts during the holidays, in 1995, in honor of his mother Myrna, who died in 1993. Gottlieb told Brooklyn Daily that his mother had always stressed the importance of civic activism.
Fiorica will probably have to clear space on her mantel. In addition to the Shorefront award, she was also received a Distinguished Woman Award from Assemblyman Bill Colton. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Outstanding Parent of the Year Award from the Bensonhurst West End Community Council.
Fiorica was born in Queens and has attended public schools all her life. A graduate of Richmond Hill High School, she received the Irwin Tobin Physical Education Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship, Citizenship and Service. While attending high school, she worked for the American Cancer Society. Fiorica earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Security Management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1998. While at John Jay College, she served as a volunteer Orientation Leader, mentoring and assisting new students.