Ellen DeGeneres gifts 41 Red Hook students scholarships, lauds two local educators and Star Network honorees


Forty-one Red Hook students are getting free college tuition, thanks to Ellen DeGeneres.

On Thursday, February 23, “The Ellen Show” and Walmart gave $1.6 million in scholarships to the seniors of Summit Academy Charter School in Red Hook for any SUNY college of their choosing.

Earlier in February, Cheryl Lundy Swift, principal of Summit Academy Charter School and winner of Star Network’s 2017 “Educator of the Year” award – to be presented on Thursday, March 23 at the sixth annual Power Women in Business networking and awards event – joined 2016 “Star under 40” and founder of the school, Natasha Campbell, on “The Ellen Show,” on which the television personality called the educators “people we can all learn from.”

The two were at that time awarded $25,000 for the school, located at 27 Huntington Street, as well as an invitation back on the show later that month, this time with students from the school.

According to the pair, 93 percent of Summit Academy’s inaugural graduating class went on to college, a record for its own neighborhood in which, the two said, less than five percent typically do.

“We are working to get 100 percent of our students in college next year,” Campbell said, before DeGeneres — who is known for giving extraordinary gifts — made it even easier for them.

Those at Star Network, a division of Schneps Communications, which owns at least 18 publications, including The Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator — is also happy to award Swift this year, and to have honored Campbell in 2016.

“I am proud and privileged to recognize both of these amazing women who genuinely care for and are committed to their students in helping them to achieve their dreams,” said event organizer Lori Pedone.

“This is my 20th year in education,” Swift told DeGeneres. “What I do this for is to make a difference in the children’s lives, and I do this to make a difference in our staff’s lives, so it’s great to be appreciated by others. I’m really very thankful.”

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