Unsung Heroes 2012
The annual Communities In Schools Unsung Heroes Award is presented to site coordinators who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to students most in need of integrated services. With acts of love and transformation, these Unsung Heroes are the best in the country at what they do.
Meet our 2012 Unsung Heroes Award recipients.
Download a brochure with information about the heroes here.
Communities In Schools of South Central Texas
The commitment to meeting students’ needs is Priority No. 1 for Stephanie Armendariz, Communities In Schools of South Central Texas site coordinator. She will give students a ride home after school so they can stay for tutoring, provide breakfast to children when they come to school hungry so they can stay focused in class, and take sick children home from school when their parents don’t have transportation. Stephanie does anything and everything to help children so they can focus on learning while they’re at school. She also provides parents the support they need to help their children be successful.
“Stephanie comes to Schertz Elementary each day with the sole intent of placing joy in the hearts of others – children and adults alike,” said Tina Trcka, principal, Schertz Elementary School. “She is sincere, passionate and generous, and has a true servant’s heart.”
Communities In Schools of Chicago
Site Coordinator Paul Fagen is fueled by the desire to see each of the students at Chicago Talent Development Charter High School reach his or her full potential.
“Mr. Fagen is an amazing man and without his help and guidance, I would not be where I am today,” said Chicago Talent High School student Alexandria Parchman. “I know that when I go off to college, I will take the lessons that he has taught with me.”
Whether it's assisting with college prep, providing individual student counseling or monitoring school-wide initiatives, Paul works to maintain a Communities In Schools presence. He spearheaded a one-on-one reading support program for students who were reading below grade level with the partnership ReadThenWrite, and created ‘Keep the Peace,’ a school-wide conflict resolution initiative.
Paul’s best asset of connecting with students has led to lasting impact in their lives.
Communities In Schools of Peninsula, Washington
In a school where roughly 72 percent of the students live in poverty, Linda Shelley, site coordinator for Communities In Schools of Peninsula, Wash., always gives 100 percent to improving children’s lives.
Linda makes sure every child struggling in class receives a one-on-one tutoring experience. She also organizes volunteers to participate in after-school activities dedicated to fostering a lifelong love of learning in students. Thanks to Linda carefully monitoring every student’s progress, each made significant gains in reading and math during the 2011-2012 school year.
Communities In Schools of Peninsula Executive Director Colleen Speer summed up Linda and her amazing work best: “Linda is not motivated by receiving personal recognition. Linda is motivated by seeing her students succeed.”
Communities In Schools of Palm Beach County, Florida
Bobby Valcin literally works around the clock – as a security guard on the graveyard shift, as a student earning his bachelor’s degree in social work at night school and as a site coordinator for Communities In Schools of Palm Beach County, Fla. It’s his passion for supporting students that makes his daily grind worth it, and his faith plays a fundamental role in his approach to work. After an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010, more than 625 students and their families sought refuge in Palm Beach County. Bobby, fluent in Creole, was enlisted to serve these students. Many had lost everything and were in desperate need of school uniforms, shoes, personal hygiene items, a translator and someone who could help them navigate their new school and life.
“Bobby has an excellent rapport with students and teachers,” said Danette Stevenson, guidance counselor at John F. Kennedy Middle School. “His ability to connect with students demonstrates his ability to serve the community.”
Communities In Schools of Greenville, South Carolina
It seems Steven Weeks was born with the helping-youth gene deeply embedded in his DNA. At Greer Middle School, Steven works tirelessly with more than 40 at-risk students. His passion to see youth overcome obstacles, be empowered and achieve in life means building strong relationships, learning what each student’s unique needs are and providing the services that remove barriers standing between the student and high school graduation.
“Steven embodies the core values of Communities In Schools,” said Scott Rhymer, principal of Greer Middle School. “He integrates those values into his everyday life, effectively serving and supporting the most at-risk students in the community.”
Beyond the Classroom Blog
Poverty is making school reform results difficult to achieve. Public education is everyone's business, and reforming our sense of community may lend a hand in reforming our schools.
"Since 2008, CIS and our local affiliates have received some $14.2 million in funding from AT&T, whose insistence on reliable metrics has helped to push us toward gathering ever more useful data."
"This award is an opportunity to honor those who are the best at what they do."