WOODBINE - Woodbine Elementary School students celebrated Women's History Month. The students from grades three through eight composed an essay based on their individual choices of their Shero. This could've been someone in their lives, someone they have read about, or their favorite rock star.

The faculty guided assignment was then judged and a winner from each class was chosen to read their essay to the assembly of students and guests at the event which was sponsored by and held at the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage of Stockton University in Woodbine. Each winner received a gift card and a certificate of achievement. In addition to the student essays, the museum honors an adult Shero each year, as well as selects the recipient of the annual Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 2019 Shero Award was given to Abbe Lynn Harris in recognition of her 35 years as an educator in Woodbine Elementary School. A native of Woodbine, Harris received her undergraduate degree from Boston University and a master’s degree from Pepperdine University. Her career path veered toward becoming an engineer but detoured instead to dedicate her professional life to being “an engineer in the education of children.”

Harris has taught in every grade level from kindergarten through eighth grade. “I am flexible and open minded,” said Harris.” I have worked with seven administrations during my teaching career here in Woodbine. I have stayed because I find new adventures in education every year that continue to inspire me to encourage and nourish my students in every way that I can."

The 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was Woodbine Councilwoman Mary Helen Perez. Perez moved to Woodbine from Brooklyn, N.Y. with her family when she was 5 years old. Having attended Woodbine Elementary School, she graduated from Millville High School in 1986. A single mom with one son, she has been a pharmacy assistant at the Woodbine Pharmacy for 36 years. She also has been employed as a private contractor in the Woodbine Developmental Center Pharmacy for 29 years.

She was elected to her third job as an independent to the Woodbine Borough Council as the first Hispanic woman to hold that position. She has served on the Borough Council for nine years. An advocate for all citizens in the community, Perez has chosen to focus on the children and young people.

She began an annual Carnival for Kids and is collecting materials and preparing for the eighth annual event which will be held in August at Lincoln Park in Woodbine. The carnival features food, games and prizes and an outing for families, large and small. She has included an educational component for the event through the participation of New Jersey Shares. More than 500 children and their families participated in last year’s carnival festivities.

Perez stated that she “tries to make a difference, one day at a time, and to work for all of the residents of my community.”