2023 Dream Big Award Honoree

Ann Boland: The Best of the Best

“I feel fortunate for having had the opportunity to grow up in a place with such a wonderful school system.”


When Ann Boland learned she had been selected as this year’s Dream Big Award honoree, she immediately declined the honor.  In her mind, the work she has done over decades to benefit Quincy Public Schools was not anything exceptional; it was simply what one does to support their community.

“There are so many other people who deserve this award much more than me,” she insisted.

The Dream Big Award is reserved for an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding level of support for Quincy Public Schools. This award honors those who have been exceptional volunteers, patrons, and educators who have gone above and beyond normal expectations to promote excellence in the district. Ann’s long record of service to Quincy Public Schools, the Quincy Public Schools Foundation, and the entire Quincy community makes her an exemplary candidate.

Ann’s relationship with Quincy Public Schools began early. She was born and raised in Quincy, having attended Webster School, Quincy Junior High School, and Quincy Senior High School. Ann’s time as a student in Quincy Public Schools is a time she remembers fondly, and much of that had to do with the teachers who made an immeasurable impression on her.

“I feel so blessed to live in a community with such outstanding teachers and principals. I still remember so many of them: Mr. Cozean the principal; Mrs. Grover my kindergarten teacher; Reverand Lee Anthony was my teacher one year- he was amazing. Miss Klarner – boy was she strict, but she was also caring and we learned so much from her. Dick Thompson, we called him Mr. T- he taught Math and he is a wonderful man. And Warren Speckhart - He ended up being my brother-in-law, but I also had him for biology.  Every one of my teachers were amazing. Just wonderful. They cared so much about the children,” said Ann in a recent interview. “I feel fortunate for having had the opportunity to grow up in a place with such a wonderful school system.”

Ann is married to her husband, Garrett, and the couple have three sons and four grandchildren. After having the children, Ann took a job as a bus driver for QPS, kicking off her career at QPS.

“I started with the school district for the flexibility it gave me with my kids. I began as a school bus driver. I drove the bus for 28 years, on the same route, which is unheard of,” remembered Ann. “I worked as a dispatcher in the transportation office. I worked in the drug prevention program. I was the noon switch board operator at the board office. And then I also worked in the special education office in the summer doing secretarial work. I loved all of my jobs.”

Though retired from QPS, Ann has continued her involvement with the district as a Night to Dream Big Committee member. This is a role she has held for more than 10 years and her reputation on the planning committee has grown into the stuff of legends. Ann is an integral member of the committee, beloved by each of its members. And the feeling is mutual.

“I just feel so honored to work with the Night to Dream Big committee. They are such a unique group, and everyone brings their own special talents to the table to make this great event happen. I love seeing a new generation of people developing their talents and volunteering. And the group is so supportive of each other. It really is just beautiful to see. They are an awesome bunch of people and I love them like they were my own children,” said Ann. “And after working so hard to get the event put together, it is wonderful to see the community’s response, from the businesses that support it to the people who attend the event or bid in the auction. It truly is an amazing event.”

Each year, Ann outdoes herself with the number of sponsors and auction donations that she brings in to benefit QPSF’s Night to Dream Big.  She devotes herself entirely to improving the community and in turn, the community supports Ann.

“You never know the answer until you ask the question,” Ann said when asked her secret to her success in securing sponsorships and auction donations. “Most people want to be involved and want to give back, especially here in Quincy.”

Ann is also a dedicated volunteer to other non-profits in the community, including Quincy Regional Crimestoppers, the Quincy Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association, and Heart Association. She was also honored as Cornerstone’s Humanitarian of the Year, and the YWCA’s Woman of Achievement and Woman of the Year.

When asked where she gets her motivation and energy to be such a tireless volunteer, Ann answers with a shrug: “I was taught to be a cheerful giver. I thank God every day that he gives me the energy and the strength to be able to volunteer and support our local organizations. I am blessed to live in a community that is so caring and giving. Quincy is a special place. The people and the businesses make it that way. It is amazing how supportive everyone is of each other.”

Ann’s quick smile, contagious laugh, and kind heart make her not only an amazing volunteer, but also a joy to be around.

“I have had the honor of getting to know Ann over the last year and I have witnessed the amazing energy and care she brings to the projects she is working on. Ann is truly a community connector. Everyone who meets her loves her, and wants to help her. I feel blessed to have her on the Night to Dream Big committee. She motivates us all to do a little more, give a little more, be a little more… all for the benefit of the Quincy community,” said Heidi Lanier, executive director of the Quincy Public Schools Foundation. “To be able to show her how appreciative we are for all of the amazing things she has done is a blessing in itself. Even though she initially resisted, I am thrilled she ultimately let us honor her this year.”