American Graduate Champion: Alejandro Góngora

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

alejandro-gongoraToday’s Champion is Alejandro Góngora. As the principal at Decker Middle School, Góngora provides extra support and encouragement to students. He believes fervently in the power of public education to transform lives and communities, and approaches the craft of teaching with the sense of discipline that is requires, but with an eye toward cultural relevance and fun. As a school leader, his vision of a school as a community grounded in learning and culture permeates campus life. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Alejandro is a great leader and role model. He has had a long track record of providing challenging, engaging instruction to youth, and of holding all youth to high expectations regardless of their life situations.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: Tiffany Woody

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

tiffany-woodyToday’s Champion is Tiffany Woody.  Woody works with at risk students from Lanier High School through the Council on At-Risk Youth. The majority of the students that she works with are at-risk youth and have had one or multiple disciplinary referrals. Woody does group counseling, one on one counseling, visits families and stays engaged with the students and teachers. She finds ways to teach these students how to overcome some very difficult struggles and also to get out of a cycle of just being labeled as a “bad” student. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Tiffany Woody truly demonstrates to her students that her door is always open and that she is there for them. Tiffany is a reminder that it doesn’t take much to just listen and help youth how to overcome barriers in life that at times seem so large. Its the simple small acts of kindness that mean the world to her students and this is why she is a champion.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: Dorothy Salas

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 1.48.40 PMToday’s Champion is Dorothy Salas. When Salas began at Anderson High School, the school’s drop-out rate was close to 5%. As the Dropout Prevention Specialist, she has helped lower that number to .3% last year. She works with students, parents and businesses to help provide the resources students need to stay in school. She runs a Saturday program for parents and students to illustrate the importance of attendance in school and the positive outcomes for those students who complete their high school education. These sessions are always well attended and parents often site her help as the thing which helped them guide their child back to school. This year she has also worked with Anderson High’s new refugee population to identify community agencies which can support families new to our neighborhood and new to the country. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Dorothy is caring and honest. Students appreciate her genuine answers because they know that she does not try to “sugar coat” issues which impact their success. She tells it “like it is” and helps students to make good decisions about continuing their education. Dorothy is a very special person – Anderson High School is a better place because of her and our students are definitely in a better place because of her tenacity and drive for their best interest!”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: Sarah Simmons

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

sarah-simmonsToday’s Champion is Sarah Simmons. Simmons is the College & Career Advisor at Akins High School. Akins school has about 2700 students – mostly low-socioeconomic with many being the first in their family to have an opportunity to attend college. Simmons works to not only show students the path, but also secure financial aide and scholarships. Over the last few years, the school has gone from having its senior class secure a few thousand dollars in financial aide, to millions. It is her goal each year to make sure every senior leaves with a secure post-secondary plan. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Sarah truly shows our students that education is the great equalizer, and that it’s a possibility for all.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: Linda Medina-Lopez

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

linda-medina-lopezToday’s Champion is Linda Medina-Lopez.  Medina-Lopez currently serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator in the Department of Communications and Community Engagement at Austin ISD and is on the SXSWedu Advisory Board and the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy Campus Advisory Council. In her role at AISD, she serves as a liaison to key constituents, district bodies and community groups and assists in ongoing relationship management with parents and community members and key stakeholders to better serve our schools. She is also the founder of the Young Hispanic Professional Association of Austin (YHPAA), an organization that provides leadership and professional development opportunities for young Latino professionals to empower and connect with the Greater Austin community. YHPAA supports and encourages higher education through college scholarships and mentorship programs while providing resources to members for professional, community, and personal development. Since 2007 YHPAA has awarded 2,000 scholarships to Austin area students. A proud El Pasoan, Linda also co-founded the El Paso Social Network of Austin in 2007 which established a fund with the Austin Community Foundation to provide scholarships for students from El Paso studying in the Austin area. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Linda continues to motivate and inspires others to strengthen our education pipeline and mentor our next generation of leaders!”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: China Smith

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

china-smithToday’s Champion is China Smith.  As a mother, teacher, and dancer, China Smith is on a quest to spread awareness about the mixed nature and diversity of the African diaspora through contemporary dance. Her company, Ballet Afrique, employs a synthesis of ballet and modern blended with Afrocentric undertones to articulate the human condition and spirit through the unbounded art form of dance. She empowers and encourages High School teens in her classes to gain a college education while also being true to their dance career.  The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “She cares very much about young African Americans and envisions a bright future for them whether it be dance or their own passions.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: Sevylla del Mazo

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

sevylla-del-mazoToday’s Champion is Sevylla del Mazo. As a music teacher at Roots & Rhythms program, del Mazo teaches students to embrace their own cultures. Roots & Rhythms is an after-school drumming program founded in 2008 by del Mazo. With drums created from recycled buckets, the bilingual students of Roots & Rhythms collaborate, create, and have some fun while learning the basics of percussion. Thanks to a grant from the City of Austin’s Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office/Cultural Arts Division, this program continues to foster ties in surrounding communities and inspires hope for local children. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Her love and inspiration is contagious. Sevylla del Mazo has found that the most important thing she can do as an educator is to teach her students the love of learning. This is exactly what she does at Roots & Rhythms after-school program. She inspires hope for these bilingual students and strives to show them that what makes them different, also makes them unique, special, and worthy of a bright future.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: The Communities In Schools XY Zone Program

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

communities-in-schoolsToday’s Champion is The Communities In Schools XY Zone Program. This program is a leadership development and peer support program that develops productive life skills to help students succeed in school and achieve in life. XY-Zone Coordinators engage approximately 400 young men per year in activities focused on the Five R’s – Respect, Responsibility, Relationships, Role Modeling and Reaching Out on ten high school campuses: Travis, Crockett, LBJ, Lehman, Lanier, Reagan, Manor, Del Valle, Hays, and Eastside Memorial. The effectiveness of the XY-Zone Program achieved national attention when featured in Leonard Pitts’ syndicated column as part of his “What Works” series. Pitts’ column was followed by stories on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and KUT’s In Black America. Communities In Schools of Central Texas was recognized as an organization that demonstrates a substantive commitment to access and equity for young men of color, and have played a critical role in improving the lives and educational experience for the students Communities In Schools serves. XY-Zone participants demonstrate improvements in grades, attendance or behavior; they decrease risky behaviors, increase volunteerism, leadership, and future aspirations, and they are challenged and empowered to aim high, get an education, and break the cycle of poverty. Outcomes: 90% of case managed students show improvement or maintain grades, attendance and/or behavior, 97% of case managed students remain in school, 92% of case managed students are promoted or graduate, participants are significantly more likely to report improved school/community involvement after engaging in XY-Zone activities. 400 case managed students are served each year and an additional 300 students receive short-term or crisis support. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “When you talk to students after participating in the program, they tell you how far they have come and how they couldn’t have made it through high school without the Communities In Schools XY Zone program. The XY Zone Coordinators who work with theses students are working directly on high school campuses providing direct service to students. These coordinators serve as role models and they give the young men in the XY Zone program a belief in themselves and help inspire them to dream big, work hard, and to achieve success after high school graduation.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: John Armbrust

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

john-armbrustToday’s Champion is John Armbrust. Armbrust is founder and Executive Director of Austin Achieve Public Schools, a new school in East Austin that serves some of the most at-risk students.The mission of Austin Achieve is college-readiness for all of students. The school currently serves over 400 students in 6-8th grade. The recognition letter submitted by the community said:  ”Many families, community members, and even city leaders are unaware of the disparity between public schools in our city. The more we can tell our story, the more we can work with community partners to change the tide of educational quality in East Austin. John has built a small but dedicated group of leaders in the business community, and has grown the school to already reach hundreds of families in northeast Austin.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

American Graduate Champion: Wendy Phillips Sturdevant

FEATURED_Champion2

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

wendy-sturdevantToday’s Champion is Wendy Phillips Sturdevant. Sturdevant attended Lake Travis ISD from kindergarden through high school. She returned to the school district initially as a high shcool math teacher and now as Associate Principal at Lake Travis High School. She has taught accelerated math and also helped challenged students pass the State Mandated Exams required for graduation. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Wendy was always available before and after school for student mentoring, tutoring and general guidance. {She is proof of} the powers of love, support, hard work, determination and going the extra mile can result in success and fulfillment.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.