THE HEART AWARDS
Renee Schloss, Middle School Teacher, Risely International, Pueblo Colorado
The RAPSA Board of Directors recognized Mrs. Schloss’ ability to reach at promise students where hope and despair coexist within the former students turned gang members. Her co-workers see her as the only person in her students’ “short lives that has provided them with hope and continues to believe they are capable of achieving more than their current circumstances.” Mrs. Schloss is recognized for her ability to reset the classroom culture into one of caring and compassion. In her daily practice she implements that most “at-promise” idea of working directly with students on the non-traditional achievement gap--that gap between each student’s individual performance and their potential. Her work environment includes building the perserverence of students for whom three of their four content teachers resigned over the winter break. The psychological impact of this ‘abandonment’ is evident in the students’ faces as they try to understand why they must continue learning if their teachers were so willing to give up. Mrs. Schloss refuses to let them give up. And the students begin to believe in themselves, some for the first time.
Linda Dawson, EdD, Superintendent, CEO of SIATech; President and Founder of Reaching At Promise Students Association
A lifelong educator, Dr. Dawson has dedicated her career to serving at-promise students. Linda has served as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal. As a principal at Abraxas, a continuation high school, she helped students who were unable to continue at the traditional path to finish their education. This ignited her passion for students who had been “pushed-out” of school and for providing second chances. Linda continued her commitment to at-promise students by joining SIATech in 2000 and became its Superintendent in 2004. Under Linda’s leadership, SIATech remains laser-focused on its commitment to dropout recovery providing at-promise students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma.
Years ahead of her time, Linda championed the need to provide an anytime/anywhere individualized curriculum and diversified SIATech to include independent study for at-promise youth balancing work and family obligations. As an education leader, SIATech is always on the cutting edge of alternative education – from serving juvenile justice students to developing career pathways paring academics with certificates, apprenticeships, and internships. Under her leadership SIATech became the only dropout recovery school in California offering University of California approved A-G classes and the first to earn the coveted California Distinguished School award from the State Board of Education.
As an educator, Linda values the importance of collaboration and life-long learning. She founded the Reaching At-Promise Students Association to provide professional development and to serve as a platform for alternative education leaders across the country. While she continues to serve as RAPSA’s President, Linda will be retiring this year from school administration after nearly 20 years at SIATech and more than 40 years in education. Her remarkable career has made a tremendously positive impact on tens of thousands of students. More than 15,000 at-promise youth have earned a high school diploma at SIATech, and countless more have made remarkable academic learning gains and learned life skills that have helped them in their education, careers, and beyond.
Pueblo, CO Risley International Academy Of Innovation
Oceanside, CA SIATech
THE VISION AWARD
Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Member California State Assembly
Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer is a Member of the California State Assembly representing South Los Angeles and serves as the Chair of the Public Safety Committee, Chair of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color and the former Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus.
Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer is a leader in the legislative efforts to end the School-to-Prison-Pipeline. He sees the devastation imposed on underserved communities. His powerful legislative advocacy has led the way to secure recidivism reduction grants; help invest more in local neighborhood schools while making higher education more affordable and accessible; promote public safety that makes the criminal justice system more fair for all communities; pursue re-entry assistance - like housing and job training - for persons that have been wrongfully convicted; and establish the Youth Reinvestment Fund to improve the outcomes of vulnerable youth populations by using trauma informed community and health-based interventions in lieu of detention.
Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer has successfully authored legislation that recognizes the importance of at-promise youth. This year, he championed AB 413 which rewrites the California Education and Penal Codes to eliminate the deficit mindset codified in state law by changing the language from “at risk” to “at promise”. He earned strong bipartisan support for AB 413. Last year, he received similar support for ACR 197 which called for Californians to recognize that “at risk” creates a prediction that lower income children and children whose parents have little formal education will fail without ever being given a chance to prove otherwise.
Reginald Bryon Jones- Sawyer
CA, Assembly Member