Edward, a computer/AV technician with the Bethel School District, believes that digital learning complements the excellent teaching that is already happening in the classroom. His focus for nearly 22 years has been to provide students, staff and teachers with technology expertise that supports a positive learning environment. Ammons is a visible presence in classrooms, making sure that equipment is working as expected so that students can learn most effectively. Community work is a priority for Ammons as well—when he recognized there was a shortage of referees in youth sports, he volunteered as a basketball official for the Special Olympics, which he has done for more than 12 years. He enjoys interacting with youth of all ages and abilities and is a positive role model to all kids.
As a custodian at Lakeville School District, Anna Angeles-Farris has seen first-hand the successes of early childhood education, and continues to advocate for additional support for such programs. Since 2005, Angeles-Farris has been integrally involved in the pre-kindergarten program, Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), and has been a member of the ECFE Council in Lakeville, Minn. A lifelong resident of Minnesota, Angeles-Farris’ grew up a child of migrant working parents. She passionately believes in the need for a strong, nurturing educational system that helps all students reach their full potential. In addition to a variety of civic activity, Angeles-Farris is an advocate for the arts and served as a member of the Lakeville Art Festival committee.
Ted is a school bus driver and playground supervisor at Southern Door Elementary School in Brussels, WI. He also is founder of Southern Door County School District’s Books on the Bus program. It all started with Ted bringing a box of his daughter’s books to his bus for students to read on the way to school. Books on the Bus is now a district-wide program that connects students with books and keeps them engaged while riding the bus to school. Commute times go by more quickly for students and they arrive at school inspired and ready to learn. Ted is the recipient of the 2014 Celebrate Literacy Individual Award from the Wisconsin State Reading Association. The award is given to an individual who exemplifies efforts beyond his/her normal duties to promote literacy in their community.
For nearly 40 years, Gary Cooper has nurtured more than trees at San Jose-Evergreen Community College District. As a groundskeeper/arborist, Cooper is responsible for keeping the grounds attractive and healthy at San Jose City and Evergreen Valley colleges in San Jose, Calif. The only arborist at the district, Cooper leads a team in maintaining the district’s many trees, grounds, preparing athletic fields for student use, and assisting with a variety of special events—all with the least amount of impact to students, staff and faculty. Cooper also volunteers as a mentor with Evergreen College’s AFFIRM program, which assists students in developing positive self-images and provides an opportunity to acquire a solid foundation of basic skills in a supportive environment. His efforts have positively impacted many students, who have noted that his support and friendship motivated them to achieve their goals.
Jeanette is a substitute teacher coordinator for Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA. As a substitute teacher coordinator, she ensures that there is a qualified substitute for every teacher, paraeducator or custodian working in her school. In addition to her work at Meadowcreek High, Jeanette engages and supports at-risk youth across Georgia. She is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter and also connects at-risk high school freshmen with mentors who help them identify scholarship opportunities. Jeanette has also developed a community outreach program through the Gwinnett County Association of Educators, which provides county residents direct access to educators in their district. Jeanette is currently a Doctoral candidate for an Education Administration and Leadership degree.
Doris Hominda dedicated her career as a school support professional to helping students in her community find their calling. As an integral part of the Career and Technical Education Department in the Bethel School District near Tacoma, Wash., she provides innovative career exploration opportunities in under-represented fields, including “Girls in Engineering and Technology” and “Boys in Healthcare.” Hominda takes initiative to organize events that encourage non-traditional career paths, provides her students with real-world experience by taking them on field trips to worksites, and offers assistance in making the connection to higher education. Hominda works closely with students to help them be successful every day—something that brings her immense pride and joy. She is also a winner of the Vocational Legislative Award for her service from the State of Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Annie is a special education paraeducator at Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, NY. In addition to her work in the classroom, Annie works with the Huntington Interfaith Homeless Initiative (HIHI), a local nonprofit that provides support to homeless and low-income families in Huntington. For the past eight years, Annie has coordinated youth volunteers to assemble over 250 bagged lunches and breakfast sandwiches every week for HIHI. Annie participates in many volunteer opportunities. She leverages her work in the community and school district to connect student volunteers and service organizations to benefit local clean-up efforts and community improvement projects. Annie is currently working on a BA with a focus on labor studies.
Doreen is a special education paraeducator at Terrace Middle School in Lakeport, CA. Whether she is teaching math, spelling or how to use a vacuum and other independent living skills, what is most important to her is that her students feel safe and supported in her classroom. Doreen is often referred to by her students as their “other mother.” She is a fierce advocate for human rights and works hard to make sure the needs of Lakeport students are met. Last September, when the Valley Fire struck her community, Doreen arranged to have bedding and cooking supplies, clothing and other necessities made available to school employees, neighbors, and others affected by the fire. Doreen is the 2016 National Education Association (NEA) Education Support Professional of the Year.
Debbi Partridge, a multimedia technician for Modesto Junior College in California, is described as a true leader by coworkers and students alike. She works tirelessly to ensure that computers, audio-visual equipment and other high-tech devices in nearly 200 smart classrooms are ready for when classes begin. In addition to daily technical support issues that arise, Partridge sets up sound and multimedia systems for campus events, and records video for lectures, speeches and athletic events. Partridge takes great pride in knowing that what she does directly supports student success, and she is committed to doing whatever is necessary to enable effective student learning. Partridge shows the same dedication off the job, assisting with school fundraisers and field trips, and coaching T-ball.
Cynthia is the dropout programs coordinator for Phoenix Union High School in Phoenix, AZ. She has been a champion for public education and at-risk youth for more than 20 years. As the dropout prevention programs coordinator and in her numerous volunteer efforts, Cynthia has helped students stay engaged in school so they graduate with a high school diploma. Cynthia has received numerous awards, including the Community Excellence Award from the Arizona State University Hispanic Mother Daughter Program, the Phoenix College Golden Bear President’s Partnership Award for K-12 School Colleague, and the Community Service Award from the League of United Latin American Citizens. She is a recent graduate of the Georgetown University School Justice Reform Certificate Program.
During her 41 years at Little Falls Community Schools in Minnesota, Middle School Special Education Paraeducator Cindi Trettel has proven to be a devoted individual to students and coworkers. Starting her career at the age of 18, she is very thankful for the adults that believed in her abilities to foster the growth of special education students. Trettel speaks with a wide smile as she describes how each child has different strengths, abilities and talents that create unique individuals. Each of these students brings such joy and satisfaction to going to work each day. Trettel works tirelessly to foster independence and growth, allowing each student to work toward success. Her dedication to students has left lasting memories with students, who always knew that she cared about them.
Margaret Warder, an intervention paraeducator for the Laguna Beach Unified School District in California, stands out among her peers due to her attention to detail when it comes to education and caring for her students. Coworkers and school administrators say Warder always gives 100 percent to any task she undertakes, is quick to volunteer when needs arise, and serves on several school committees. On the job, Warder often works with students one-on-one, forging relationships to relate to students on their level while also challenging them to reach new heights in their education. Through these connections and her astute observations, Warder ensures that the school is meeting the changing needs of her students. In her community, Warder is civically engaged, serving on a number of city committees, and is a staunch advocate in women’s and children’s issues.