California Educator

April/May 2023

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Ron Espiritu Camino Nuevo Teachers Association CÉSAR CHÁVEZ "SÍ SE PUEDE" HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD Nalik Davis, Jr., has been a leader in supporting African American and other students and educators of color in his school district and throughout the Inland Empire. Davis teaches history, AVID and ethnic studies at Eisenhower High School in Rialto and said it's all about modeling the work and building relationships. "Students will always reflect their leadership, so if my leader- ship in the classroom is showing kids that I care by being on time, putting all I can into my work, giving full effort and showing my best to them—that will reflect in them," he told his college alumni publication a few years ago. " They will start to care, they will start putting in the effort, and they will start investing in their education. If you can get to that kid for a good five to 10 minutes and build a relationship with that kid, then they will trust you forever." Davis has coordinated and moderated an African American Inland Empire Educator virtual roundtable for the past two years, uniting teachers, administrative leaders and staff to dis- cuss issues they have faced as African American educators and how we can better support our African American students. With other Rialto Education Association members, Davis has also presented at CTA conferences on what is possible with ethnic studies. In February, he received a Bridge Builders Award from Rialto Unified School District for "excellence in equity & access toward students and community." "I want us to continue the work," Davis says. "Let's continue to push forward, to work together, to be a stronger community and to find ways to highlight our African American students and staff." Nalik Davis, Jr. Rialto Education Association AFRICAN AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD IN HONOR OF LOIS TINSON As the catalyst for and creator of the K-12 Ethnic Studies 4 All Initiative at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Ron Espiritu embodies advocacy and com- munity building around curriculum and materials that highlight educational and academic equity. He has spoken repeatedly and forcefully about why ethnic studies matters. "Ethnic studies is empowering, liberating and transformative for our young people," he said in a TEDx Talk, pointing to studies proving its positive academic and social results for students of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Espiritu's leadership includes raising awareness of and celebrating cultural heritage, providing consistent training and leadership programs, and exemplifying the nonviolent philosophy of César Chávez. In his decade-long lobbying of the State Legislature to incorporate Ethnic Studies into cur- ricula, he has diligently promoted educational equity for Hispanic students. He has also been dedicated to promoting, designing and implementing training programs for teachers of Hispanic students. On an interdisciplinary level, Espiritu facilitates workshops in which teachers share experi- ences and best practices for breathing life into eth- nic studies pedagogies, such as ethnic studies in the STEM classroom. " The whole goal of ethnic studies is for students to come back into the communities where they are from, to contribute positively to social justice movements, to organizations that promote health and wellness, racial justice and immigrant rights, to become educators and artists." Espiritu's work also encompasses staff, creating space to confront the ways racism serves as a con- tinuous barrier against diversifying the teaching force and offering tools to support educators who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color on both a systemic and interpersonal level. Everything has a spirit, everything is sacred.'" She creates Native videos for her students and peers and works on a Native curriculum task force. A participant in CTA's 2022-23 Ethnic Minority Early Identification Development (EMEID) program, she is also a certified California naturalist and strong LGBTQ+ advocate. Yava is also an artist whose Native-themed work has been exhibited at local museums and whose murals grace several public buildings. She believes in giving back to her students and community by sharing her passion for education, the sci- ences, the environment and Native history by sharing herself and her art. 27 A P R I L / M AY 2 0 2 3

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