Melanie Tanseco, Colleen Briner-Schmidt, Jose Rios, Kristy Orona-Ramirez and Lori Clock, with Mikki Cichocki-Semo, Dean Vogel and Eric Heins
Members from Thousand Oaks, Riverside, La Quinta, La Mirada and Monterey earned kudos for their outstanding dedication to promoting and protecting human and civil rights. The prestigious Human Rights Awards were presented at CTA’s annual Equity and Human Rights Conference.
This year’s honorees:
Jose Rios, Desert Sands Teachers Association, was recognized for his dedication and commitment to the Hispanic community. He became a teacher after serving as a counselor in the Indio juvenile justice system. Determined to stop discrimination and expand access to quality education for his students, he describes his students as “my closest collaborators and my best teachers.”
Colleen Briner-Schmidt, Unified Association of Conejo Teachers, has advocated for women and girls since she was told admitting her to an honors English program was a waste of time since she was “just going to get married and have babies, and efforts to teach her would be wasted.” She serves as a role model for countless students, encouraging girls to pursue math and science-related fields.
Kristy Orona-Ramirez, Alvord Educators Association, is an award-winning author who successfully promoted American Indian and Mexican Indian educational opportunities. Kristy was targeted by anti-immigrant groups after reading a poem for a syndicated broadcast and was ultimately transferred as the school district caved to pressure. New district leadership has returned her to her original school where she continues her advocacy.
Lori Clock, Teachers Association of Norwalk-La Mirada, advocates for children both here and overseas. A staunch supporter of By Grace Children’s Home in Ngong, Kenya, she expanded her efforts in that country to provide medical care and facilities for AIDS patients. She started the SOS (Smiles Overseas) Club to get her own fifth-graders and school community involved. Last year, Lori’s students filled 138 Love Packs for Kenyan children.
Melanie Tanseco, Monterey Bay Teachers Association, works primarily with children with autism spectrum disorders. She facilitates understanding among her colleagues as well as school parents, breaking down barriers that too often isolate students with special needs from the rest of the school community.
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