American Graduate Champion: Mary Yancy

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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.

mary-yancyToday’s Champion is Mary Yancy. As a practicing psychologist, Yancy is a staunch advocate for accessible mental health and wellness services for children and their families. She was instrumental in the creation of the Texas Child Study Center, supports the AISD Social Emotional Learning initiative, and currently serves on the advisory boards of the Austin Recovery Council, People’s Community Clinic and Caritas. She has helped wed the longstanding Austin ISD Peer Assistance and Leadership Program with new research and curricula on Socioemotional Learning. Her civic engagements have also included service on education, arts and social service boards including the Texas Book Festival, The Ann Richards School, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, the Seton Fund and Arthouse. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “She knows that the true well-being of youth is based not solely on an academic focus but on a holistic view of development and experience, and she puts her own resources to work to make holistic approaches happen for all of Austin’s youth.”

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: Ivanna Crippa

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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.

ivanna-crippaToday’s Champion is Ivanna Crippa.  Crippa works at Breakthrough Austin, non-profit organization focused providing a path to college, starting in middle school, for low-income students who will be first-generation college graduates. She is a huge advocate for DACA students and immigrant students, as well. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “There might be one or two people in this world that are more passionate about getting low-income, 1st generation students to and through college, but probably not more than Ivanna Crippa. Ivanna is a 1st generation college student, herself. Her story of being a young Hispanic girl leaving her home in Houston to attend The University of Texas in Austin is one to which many of our students can relate. Her determination and grit as a high school student applying to enough scholarships to cover her cost of attendance is inspirational. Her performance as a college adviser shows she’s leaving a legacy of students breaking the mold and finding their own voice as a college student. Ivanna impowers young hearts and minds, definitely making the world a better place!”

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: Dr. Paul Cruz

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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.

paul-cruzToday’s Champion is Dr. Paul Cruz. Cruz is the superintendent for the Austin Independent School District, serving more than 85,000 students and more than 12,000 employees. For more than 28 years, Cruz has worked in education. He has been a teacher, campus administrator and central office administrator in Corpus Christi, San Antonio and south Texas. Dr. Cruz was also a superintendent of schools in Laredo ISD, a district with approximately 23,500 students.The recognition letter submitted by the community said:  ”Dr. Cruz is an inspiration to those of us who have immigrated to this country and who learned English as a second language. He instills pride in being Latino and has a story that motivates us to increase and continue the work ethic that as immigrants we come to this country clinging to.  Dr. Cruz has spent his career listening for and being attentive to the barriers that he has had the control to altar and take away for the families and students in the AISD educational journey. His leadership has allowed for many of these barriers to be removed and he continues to examine and create ways to ‘clear the path’ to graduation for our students and their families in the city of 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: Montserrat Garibay

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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.

montserrat-garibayToday’s Champion is Montserrat Garibay. Garibay, Vice-President of Education Austin, Montserrat is a world-class early childhood teacher, a National Board Certified Teacher, a vigorous proponent for quality education and support for teachers, and a tireless supporter for the right of undocumented youth and their families. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Montserrat has in many ways been living the American Dream, but she’ll be the first to tell you that good things have only come about through struggle. She, her sister, and her mother escaped a treacherous situation in Mexico when she was a little girl, they all lived under fear of deportation as she grew up, but all the while she excelled academically and seized educational opportunity. As an adult, she has been constantly giving back to her society by becoming a top-notch teacher and scholar. With her turn toward policy and civil rights matters, Montse has stepped onto a larger stage but always, her heart and mind remain with those who are growing up in the conditions that she once faced. If we can help those youth and their families live more secure lives, we all benefit from the talents and energy they have to offer.”

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: Alejandro Góngora

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.