The Awesome Awards - Nominations

Theresa DiMuro-Wilbur

Nominated by Jennifer Connor
February 25, 2017
She is small in stature but mighty in spirit. Her strength is in her gentleness and the twinkle in her eye. Children tag along at her side, kittens take shelter on her front porch, and badass feminist actresses learn under her direction. Theresa is one of the most unassuming people I know. But because I worked with her and also see her work in the community, I know the truth. Theresa is the longest-running teacher at a small neighborhood preschool in Buffalo, NY; for years she has been THE Rosebud classroom teacher. Children revere her, which makes sense, because she reveres them, and grants every small child immense respect and dignity and a full measure of humor too. I hang around Theresa just to get good lines. She has been teaching young children for at least twenty years, but the way in which she really takes in each child, considers who they are, and reflects on their whole self is remarkable. She is a philosopher of the young child's life, but again, in the most unassuming way possible. I ask her about something, and she shares her deep thought of the day. Every day at school we help the children put their shoes on and take them off about a million times. I doubt Theresa is thrilled on the millionth shoe fitting, but there is something about how she takes that moment and is so present. She kneels down and looks them in the eye, she helps them with a finicky shoe; if they are upset, she offers a diversion, a moment of humor, or a kind word. She is a master. She could call it a day at five and say she has done all that she needs to in the world, but then she goes home and cares for the stray cats and kittens from her neighborhood. She takes them in, cares for them, finds them homes, and brings to the vet. She has had volumes of cats pass through on their way to a home or to medical care, but whoever she is caring for at the moment has the full attentions of her heart. Perks: sometimes she brings a tiny, tiny kitten in to the office at school that needs frequent feeding. So she goes home, and takes care of the cats, and she might be done for the day- but no; there is something else: Theresa is an actress, director and a mainstay and mentor to the acting community. The first time I saw/met her she was in a production called "Wicked Women" by her troupe, the Brazen Faced Varlets, that examined how concepts of women's morality have been dictated and controlled, and how women have conformed or defied. Theresa is an ensemble member of the Brazen Faced Varlets; she teaches and directs; and she is the Theatre School Coordinator for the youth theater in Buffalo. One of Theresa's central qualities is her ability to keep at it. This is not some fortuitous character trait; this is one she cultivates, quietly, through her conscious self-development and how she nourishes her inner life. There is an immediate circle of people who know how awesome Theresa is, for example, anyone who works directly with her; but in a larger sense she goes unrecognized. It is easy to miss the one who feeds the children with kind words, works the lights at the recent feminist theater production, quietly whisks the kitten from under the abandoned house to shelter. Theresa is a stalwart and brave soul and I am grateful to have come to know her. Bonus: One of the standbys passed on from Theresa, useful on the tenth "why" or for self-evident questions such "Where are my shoes?" from the child wearing them: Theresa: "I wonder that myself."