MIAMI – A “Street Co-Designation Ceremony” in honor of the late Tanya Martin Pekel (Oct. 3, 1964 – May 22, 2006), was held on Friday March 1, at Miami Shores Elementary School. The state street sign is at 103rd Street and Northeast Sixth Avenue.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance led by students, Euphemia Ferguson sang America the Beautiful. Stephanie Bromfield served as mistress of ceremonies. An invocation was given by the Rev. Cannon J. Kenneth Major, rector emeritus of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, where Pekel and her sister Terrie grew up and were confirmed.
Miami-Dade School Board Member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, and the sponsor of the street naming bill, District 108 State Rep. Daphne Campbell, both spoke. Joyce Postell presented a letter of recognition from U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson.
Reflections were given by Anna Price who was an administrator of the University of Miami Upward Bound Program when Pekel tutored high school students as a college student during the summer, and by Maud Newbold who shared glimpses of her life growing up.
Tanya attended the Miami-Dade Public Schools (Morningside, Miami Shores Elementary, Horace Mann, North Miami Middle and North Miami Senior High), graduating in 1982 as one of three National Merit Scholars.
Pekel served as a Florida Page and a page for U.S. Rep. William Lehman in high school while enjoying dance and other arts and volunteering as a tutor.
A graduate of Duke University undergraduate and Law School, Pekel became a corporate attorney before being appointed in 1995 as one of 14 White House Fellows by President Clinton.
After the fellowship during which she was mentored by Colin Powell and other outstanding leaders of the country, she became associate director for Education and Policy Planning at the White House, where she helped shape the key education initiatives of the turn of the century.
Pekel later accepted the position of chief of staff to the superintendent of the St. Paul (MN) Public Schools, where she helped shaped and steer an improvement agenda that has since become a model for urban education reform.
She valiantly wrestled breast cancer for 2½-years while continuing to work and carry out her roles as a loving wife, mother and school advocate, until her passing.