Skip Navigation or Skip to Content
Collage of photos of Human Rights Award winners and CTA officers.

Top row: CTA President E. Toby Boyd, Vice President David Goldberg, Secretary-Treasurer Leslie Littman. Second row: Naqiba Gregory, Baylin Dickinson, Maritza Ávila, Tammy Scorcia (Alhambra Teachers Association), Ronald Phillip Smith. Third row: Olubunmi Adeleke, Kien Tang, Taline Arsenian, Margie Granado, Wendy Eccles (San Gorgonio SCC).

Eight inspiring educators are this year’s winners of CTA Human Rights Awards. They were recognized at a special ceremony during CTA’s Equity and Human Rights Conference on February 26 for their outstanding dedication to social justice, and for promoting and protecting human and civil rights.

These awards honor educators and tireless social justice warriors whose work goes beyond their classrooms into their communities,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “This year was unprecedented: Educators worked harder than ever during a pandemic to teach and care for our students. They led our children and youth through brutal events across the country that forced us to confront racism and to talk honestly about how to be an ally and what democracy means. Our award winners have done this work while continuing to serve their communities. They are truly an inspiration.” 

NEA President Becky Pringle praised the honorees’ (and CTA’s) commitment to social justice in a video presentation.I am honored to have this opportunity to recognize your willingness to do the vital work, have the difficult conversations, and continue to push and pull to break open the doors of racial and social justice for California students and educators,” Pringle said. 

Also honored this year were the Alhambra Teachers Association and the San Gorgonio Service Center Council.

The following are the 2021 CTA Human Rights Award winners (in the order they were recognized at the awards ceremony):

Olubunmi Adeleke, Lake Elsinore Teachers Association, African American Human Rights Award in Honor of Lois Tinson

Naqiba Gregory, West Sacramento Teachers Association, American Indian/Alaska Native Human Rights Award in Honor of Jim Clark

Maritza Ávila, Oxnard Educators Association, César Chávez  Se Puede Human Rights Award 

Kien Tang, Garvey Education Association, Pacific Asian American Human Rights Award  

Ronald Phillip Smith, United Teachers Los Angeles, Human Rights Award for LGBTQ+ Advocacy in Honor of Nancy Bailey 

Margie Granado, Montebello Teachers Association, Human Rights Award for Women’s Advocacy

Taline K. Arsenian, Glendale Teachers Association, CTA Peace and Justice Human Rights Award

Baylin Dickinson, United Teachers Los Angeles, CTA Member Human Rights Award  

Alhambra Teachers Association, CTA Chapter Human Rights Award

San Gorgonio Service Center Council, CTA Service Center Council Human Rights Award

 

Olubunmi Adeleke, Lake Elsinore Teachers Association, African American Human Rights Award in Honor of Lois Tinson

Olubunmi Adeleke

“I started the Black Student Union club at my school because students needed a safe and comfortable environment to speak up on issues inside and outside of school. We’ve been able to do so much for our students, and we hope this momentum will continue.” 

When Olubunmi Adeleke saw that African American students at her school felt unseen and unsupported, she started a Black Student Union (BSU) club last year. The response was so great that they had to move the club from her classroom to the library, and two other district high schools were inspired to start a BSU of their own. Adeleke is now working with elementary and middle school teachers to create a BSU at each site. 

With her leadership, the BSUs at all three high schools obtained funding, and students were able to attend Black college expos for the very first time. Adeleke also took them to local college leadership conferences, brought in community leaders and entrepreneurs as speakers, and forged ties with the African American Parent Advisory Committee. One major result of this collaboration was the district’s first Black History Month event, put together by BSU students, colleagues and students from elementary and secondary schools.  

In her chapter, Adeleke is a site rep and serves on the negotiations team. She is CTA’s Special Education Committee chair and was recently elected as a CTA State Council delegate. As a member of the African American Caucus, she continues to work toward implementation of ethnic studies in all schools. 

Adeleke credits participation in CTA’s Ethnic Minority Early Identification and Development (EMEID) program and being a two-time delegate to NEA Representative Assembly with helping develop her leadership skills. 

 

Naqiba Gregory, West Sacramento Teachers Association, American Indian/Alaska Native Human Rights Award in Honor of Jim Clark

Naqiba Gregory

“We need to teach our Native history by tribally approved, created curriculum. We need to educate ourselves and others while working to change policy and legislation across the nation, and deal with Native issues.”

Naqiba Gregory is a longtime advocate for Native equity, including equal educational opportunity and educational materials and curriculum; preserving cultural heritage; training and leadership programs; greater voice in CTA policy and decision-making; public awareness of issues; and creating positive role models.  

Her work started early. Icollege, she was active with the North American Indian Alliance, tutoring Native students — which led to her pursuing education as a career. 

While teaching K-8 art, Gregory worked in her districts Indian education program. Thcurriculum fostered connections to and understanding of the Native community. 

When she joined the leadership of her local association, she advocated for students and colleagues experiencing bullying, prejudice and discrimination, and brought greater awareness of the challenges that Native students and educators face. She served on the equity teams of both her local and her Service Center Council. She was also selected to participate in CTAEMEID program. 

At the state level, Gregory has helped promote Native representation in CTA and NEA decision-making and policies through her work in the American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus, CTA State Council Civil Rights in Education Committee, Racial Equity Affairs Committee, and NEA Representative Assembly. In 2019, EMEID supported her efforts to create an Exemplary Educator Award event for her local. 

 

 

Maritza Ávila, Oxnard Educators Association, César Chávez “Sí Se Puede Human Rights Award

Maritza Ávila

I share this award with my beloved students, with all the fearless educators who relentlessly advocate for those who do not have a voice, and with grassroot community organizers who paved the way for liberation and social justice.  

Maritza Ávila demonstrates the “Sí se puede” attitude in everything she does, from teaching her students to motivating colleaguesShe is on the CTA César Chávez Memorial Education Awards Committee and welcomes the opportunity to honor Chávez and his connection to the Oxnard community, where many of her students have similar backgrounds. Her students participate in the district’s annual César Chávez speech contest, which helps them understand the cultural and historical context of Chávez’s life and mission. 

As a member of CTAs California Reads Committee, she helps with the annual, diverse list of recommended books for all grade levels. Ávilas most recent accomplishment is developing an ethnic studies course for her district.  

As part of the NEA Hispanic Caucus, she has supported shelters for displaced people in Mexico and rights for DACA students and disadvantaged students of color. Ávila is a member of the Association of Mexican American Educators, and each year it hosts a speech contest on a Latino leader. It also raises funds for $500 scholarships for high school seniors in Ventura County.  

Ávila is focused on empowering her students and giving them a voice within their community. “Sí se puede, indeed.  

 

Kien Tang, Garvey Education Association, Pacific Asian American Human Rights Award

Kien Tang

In this uncertain time, we can all use a little compassion and a lot of kindness. In a time where everyone struggles financially, emotionally, mentally, socially, we all need to come together to preserve our human dignity.” 

As an educator and labor leader, Kenneth Tang has dedicated his career to uplifting others. He is an educator in the Garvey School District, not far from where he grew up in Alhambra. Both communities have large Pacific Asian American (PAA) populations. An advocate for English learners, he collaborates with his students each year to “adopt” PAA charity organizations, ranging from local to global and addressing issues such as food insecurity, health and immigration. Not only has this work benefited the PAA community, it has built an entire generation of PAA activists. 

Outside the classroom, Tang has served on the Garvey Education Foundation board and was president of the Garvey Education Association. In his district’s Dual Language Committee, he helped advance educational equity by pushing the program to offer more bilingual programs.  

Tang has also made significant contributions to the PAA community as a labor leader. He is chair of CTA’s Pacific Asian American Caucus, co-chair of the Racial Equity Affairs Committee, and past senior director of CTA’s NEA Board members, to name a few. In these roles he helped develop conferences that educate members about PAA history, built relationships with organizations such as the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, and mentored emerging leaders within the PAA community. As an NEA director, Tang led the movement to make NEA’s Read Across America program more diverse and inclusive in the books and authors it promotes. He has also fostered positive relationships with legislative leaders to promote public education and PAA issues. 

As a recent candidate for the Alhambra Unified school board, Tang received multiple endorsements from former students, educators and elected officials, and won by a landslide. He was selected by his colleagues as school board president.  

 

 

Ronald Phillip Smith, United Teachers Los Angeles, Human Rights Award for LGBTQ+ Advocacy in Honor of Nancy Bailey

Ronald Phillip Smith

“Anything and everything of significance I’ve accomplished in the field of education has always been with my students in mind. They inspire me to go above and beyond in teaching and in activism. As a queer educator, it’s a great honor to be a role model for young people today.” 

Ronald Smith’s work at his school site and UTLA, as well as his push for LGBTQ+ positive policy at the state level, has made a big impact.  

As an openly queer and pansexual educator, Smith has organized with his union for social justice and freedom of expression for all children, families and educators. He co-founded the Trans and Queer Racial Educational Justice Coalition, and has helped to unify students, teachers, activists and advocates in the fight for intersectional educational justice. 

For the past three years, Smith has served as LGBTQIAP2S+ advocacy coordinator on UTLA’s Equity Team. He planned and implemented Equity Team presentations for union members on facilitating brave spaces for conversations about racism, patriarchy, queer phobia and ableism in education; Black Lives Matter at School; and diverting funds used for school police to more resources for counselors, social workers and community members on campus. 

An educator at Quincy Jones Elementary School, Smith created a trans- and queer-affirming advocacy group called Students Advocate For Each Other (S.A.F.E.) for students in the upper elementary grades. For this project, he was awarded a grant by CTA’s LGBTQ+ Safety in Schools Program in Honor of Guy DeRosa. 

 

 

Margie Granado, Montebello Teachers Association, Human Rights Award for Women’s Advocacy

“At CTA, we are approximately 75 percent female. Why aren’t there more women in leadership positions? We can change this, we can make CTA a place with equitable representation for women. I’m happy to be a part of an organization that’s willing to do this work.”

Margie Granado, serving her second term on CTA’s Board of Directors, is a strong and effective advocate for women and women’s rights. She strives to ensure that gender bias has no place in the work that is done around her or in the work that she does at CTA.

It hasn’t been an easy journey, as she says in the video accepting her award. “Over the years I’ve had to present myself in certain ways, I’ve been asked to smile, and I have been characterized in unflattering ways. All the time that these things happened had nothing to do with my leadership.

“So now I use my voice and my position to call it out, so that future and current women leaders don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through.”

At CTA, she listens, helps solve problems, and speaks up and out when needed. She advocates for women’s voices in developing policy and in decision-making. She encourages and supports women of color and new members’ participation in the union at all levels. She is the board liaison to the CTA’s new Women’s Rights Committee.

Leadership training and support, particularly for women, are important to Granado. Currently, she chairs the CTA Board Committee on Training and Development. Her activism clearly runs deep, and she has been a leader in education and for educators for years, with her chapter and the NEA Board of Directors, as well as with CTA.

 

 

Taline K. Arsenian, Glendale Teachers Association, CTA Peace and Justice Human Rights Award

Taline Arsenian

“I recognized teaching math was not my only responsibility. For my students to live in a world they deserve, they needed to embrace and respect diversity, overcome adversity, take a stand in the face of prejudice, and become warriors of justice to lead enduring change.”

Through her work as an educator, association leader and community member in a culturally diverse community, Taline Arsenian has promoted peace, justice and international understanding among her students in many ways.

Arsenian has served in many capacities to promote awareness and recognition of the Armenian Genocide. As a middle school teacher, she helped create a tolerance committee that promoted universal human rights and genocide awareness. She also helped create a districtwide committee that oversees events such as annual Armenian Genocide assemblies that take place in district schools, and facilitated educator collaboration in curating related student programs.

Arsenian and other community leaders worked with the Glendale Unified school board to create a resolution recognizing April 24 as a district holiday in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. She guided the district’s training of all secondary social studies teachers in curriculum and primary source material for teaching about the genocide.

She has played a significant role in developing her district’s restorative practices team, which focuses on community building, communication and conflict resolution to build relationships among all students. She also worked to make sure safe space stickers were in all district classrooms and created a local event called GlendaleOUT, a collaboration between LGBTQ+ artists and students in the community.

 

 

Baylin Dickinson, United Teachers Los Angeles, CTA Member Human Rights Award

Baylin Dickinson

“The social justice work we do is a tether between what we do inside and outside of classrooms. It weaves its way from the communities we build and our learning environments to the decision-making bodies we’re a part of at the local, state and national level.”

Baylin Dickinson has engaged in struggles for intersectional human rights throughout her career as an educator, school leader and union activist. She has consistently advocated for members of color to be represented in leadership positions at her local and within CTA. She has organized to create strong relationships with families of her students, colleagues and community members. She has worked with Student CTA to encourage the next generation of teachers.

In response to a co-worker facing discrimination based on sexual orientation, Dickinson organized to bring LGBTQ-affirming professional development to her school. Her advocacy created a workplace in which human rights are now more respected, making the school safer for both students and teachers.

As human rights advocacy coordinator on UTLA’s Equity Team, she promoted human rights within her local and CTA. She led the team’s charge to create presentations on courageous conversations about race for its “BraveSpace” series in response to the continued murders of unarmed Black men by police officers.

As human rights chair, Dickinson promoted anti-racist teaching practices and Black Lives Matter at School. She collaborated on family-affirming events, such as providing dinners for over 350 family members. She leads the “Let Young People Vote” campaign at her school and teaches students about voting rights.

 

 

Alhambra Teachers Association, CTA Chapter Human Rights Award

Alhambra Teachers Association members on the march.

Our DREAM Center support and resources are provided on a regular basis, even during the pandemic. Our annual reading event distributes thousands of books and hosts 1,000 students and their families. Since March our members have stepped up, delivering food every week to families in need.” ATA President Tammy Scorcia 

The Alhambra Teachers Association, under the leadership of President Tammy Scorcia, has been extraordinarily active in the community with various initiatives

Tammy Scorcia

Tammy Scorcia

In the past year, ATA has led the way in organizing and mobilizing the community in a massive effort to feed over 300 families weekly who deal with food insecurityATAefforts included organizing, collecting, receiving, purchasing, sorting, packing, distributing and delivering food and supplies. This work has improverelations between ATA members and the community.  

Since school started in August, ATA has been distributing school supplies to families, another effort of kindness and dedication that has brought the community together. In addition, for the past three years, ATA haheld California Reads/Read Across America events, including a book giveaway. ATA members have given thousands of books to socioeconomically disadvantaged families while building community partnerships with the Asian Youth Center, Foothills Counseling Services, Grassroots Alhambra, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, Planned Parenthood, and many others.

The chapters work also includes designing and implementing projectto inform membership about the meaning of human and civil rights and to protect them; and activity to identify and encourage the use of effective teaching materials that reflect the value of diversity. 

 

 

 

 

San Gorgonio Service Center Council, CTA Service Center Council Human Rights Award

San Gorgonio Service Center Council

San Gorgonio Service Center Council

San G works because we are a team. We have the most amazing people that make this come together every year.” —Wendy Eccles, San Gorgonio SCC chair 

Wendy Eccles

Wendy Eccles

San Gorgonio Service Center Council, known as San G, takes an active, progressive role in the fight for social justice and cultural equity in Region IV and beyond. It does this through its annual Fall Leadership Conference, with sessions on advocating for social justice, and the Social Justice and Cultural Equity Conference, which provides information and guidance on topics such as establishing equity teams in locals, employing culturally sensitive teaching practices, leader recruitment and development, and practical strategies to examine sensitive topics with members. 

San Gorgonio supports local communities by contributing to the Esperanza Project, which promotes wellness among various at-risk populations; participating in Pride Weekend; sponsoring annual toiletry drives; and working with the local NAACP chapter on activities and events. The SCC also sponsors a student art contest with a different ethnic theme each year, and awards small scholarships to winners at different grade levels.  

The SCC includes Student CTA in all its events. It has pledged a portion of its annual budget to Student CTA members, who tend to be predominantly from underrepresented ethnic groups. 

San Gorgonio will continue to work toward its goal of promoting the establishment of equity teams in each of its chapters, while also providing seminars, workshops and other activities to foster their development and efficacy. 

 

To learn more about CTA’s work in Human Rights, visit cta.org/humanrights. Go here for information about the CTA Human Rights Awards.

 

 


NEA President Becky Pringle’s remarks at the 2021 CTA Human Rights Awards ceremony: