Chautauqua County– Panama Central School District employee Jerry Ireland is the 2017 Excelsior Award winner for his outstanding contributions to the academic and athletic life of the students in his community. Photos by Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2017.

PANAMA — When it comes to high school sports at the Panama Central School District, CSEA member Jerry Ireland goes the extra mile.

For his extraordinary efforts, Ireland is being honored with this year’s Excelsior Award. The award, jointly sponsored by CSEA and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, honors a CSEA member in a NYSPHSAA school who has helped promote and foster athletic success in their local school district.

The award was slated to be presented in late November at the 2017 NYSPHSAA Girls Volleyball Championships in Glens Falls.

Ireland, who has worked for more than 20 years at the Panama Central School District, has been a long time supporter of high school sports. Initially hired as a teacher aide, Ireland encouraged students to participate in athletics and to attend sporting events at the school.

Now a transportation director/teacher aide at the district, Ireland is responsible for all transportation itineraries, including trips to all away athletic events for “combined schools” sports teams, busing students to and from many district alternative schools and monitoring school field trips.

Co-worker Chrissy Smith, who nominated Ireland for the award, said he is irreplaceable. “Jerry is just everywhere, doing everything for the students,” Smith said. “We can attribute a lot of our school’s overall success to Jerry’s efforts, making sure our kids get the best educational and athletic experience possible.”

Throughout the school year, Ireland plays a central role in high school sports. He is the official announcer at the Panama Panthers football games and operates the scoreboard for the girls’ volleyball games.

During the winter sports season, Ireland runs the scoreboard for girls’ and boys’ basketball games. He has also run the scoreboard and clock for both boys’ and girls’ Section VI playoff games at Jamestown Community College.

For the spring season, Ireland is a volunteer coach for our girls’ softball team and serves as the team’s first base coach. He is also involved in the process of coordinating and escorting teams in and out of town for countywide and state championship games.

When asked about receiving this award, he said, “I just love my job. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Ireland is also active in his community. Born and raised in the Village of Panama, Ireland has been a volunteer firefighter with the Panama Fire Company for more than 40 years, holding leadership roles as the chief and as an officer. Ireland has also served as the village’s mayor and village board trustee.

On Sunday mornings, you can also catch Ireland at his local community church, where he chairs the church’s board of trustees. He also serves as a Chautauqua ambassador for the Chautauqua Institution during its summer season.

From the community perspective, many people in the school district see Ireland as the renaissance man of Chautauqua County.

During his down time, Ireland enjoys spending vacations with his children and grandchildren at the family camp.

— Ove Overmyer


Panama Central School District’s do-everything renaissance man Jerry Ireland operates the game clock and scoreboard at a recent event in the school gymnasium. Photo by Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2017

-Story & Photos by Ove Overmyer


About Author

Ove Overmyer

Ove Overmyer is an award winning photojournalist and writer who has promoted the virtue of working people and the value of public service throughout his career. His work has been published by many well-respected international media outlets, including PBS Moyers & Co., Steward Update UCS Worker Institute Cornell ILR, CBS News, The Weather Channel, SCI-FY Channel, Associated Press and LOGO-TV. Before joining the CSEA Communications Department staff in 2015, Overmyer was a CSEA member employed by the City of Rochester and an officer of the union for more than 18 years. He covers a 14 county area of Western New York and lives in Rochester, NY.

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