Saranac Lake Public School Education Fund

Roger-Bonair Agard, Slam Poetry Champion

Roger Bonair-Agard is a national slam poetry champion and member of six National Poetry Slam teams. He has appeared on Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on HBO. He performs all over the world, facilitating workshops at high schools and universities. He's author of Tarnish and Masquerade (2006) and a co-author of Burning Down the House (2000).

The Saranac Lake Public School Education Fund was established in 2002, first in honor and now in memory of Ann Ruth Siegel Swern, by her daughter, Dorothy Federman of Saranac Lake. Ann Swern died at the age of 93 in 2011.

Ann Swern was born of immigrant parents from Eastern Europe and spoke Yiddish as her first language. She met her future husband, Dan Swern, at the Brooklyn Public Library, attended Brooklyn College while her husband studied at City College, and then went on to graduate from Temple University in Philadelphia when Dorothy was 12, achieving her dream of being a teacher. She taught math and reading in Philadelphia public schools.

Dorothy graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and wished to honor her mother's appreciation of and devotion to public education at all levels. Ann believed public education is fundamental to an open society. Her own parents were so grateful to be able to come to this country, and education received the highest value.

This fund supports programs in the Saranac Lake Public Schools that exemplify her values.

The fund has already supported programs like the Poetry Workshop of the Adirondack Center for Writing, which offers a full day of poetry and writing conducted by three renowned poets each year; an afterschool series at Inner Quest Yoga offered to Saranac Lake High School students as an alternative to competitive sports and the annual trip to Harvard University by Saranac Lake's Model UN to debate with students from around the world.