California Educator

April/May 2023

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Page 30 of 61

Frank Palad Mata Corona Norco Teachers Association CTA PEACE AND JUSTICE HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD Frank Palad Mata has been in the classroom for more than 18 years. Currently teaching high school AP language & compo- sition and expository reading & writing, he recently developed a 12th grade course focusing on social justice and equity. Mata makes all his students feel welcome and represented in the classroom. He understands that many of them are torn about their identity and have received little education on what true equity is, and that to promote peace and move forward we need to all understand each other 's issues. His ability to connect with people — particularly students — helps him facilitate dialogue on challenging topics such as race, gender, class, etc. In his teaching, he includes the history of influential BIPOC people and the amazing contributions they have made. He does this in a way that uplifts all his students and empow- ers them to believe that they too can accomplish so much, no matter what obstacles they may encounter. Of the environment he creates in his classroom, he says, "My students know that when they come in here, I want to get them closer to the truth — closer to your truth, what is not defined by your social categories." Mata was the first teacher to form a social justice club on campus in Corona Norco Unified. This has given students the confidence to take active roles in their school and more importantly in their community. He also has supported fellow educators who are trying to create more socially just and equi- table classrooms. He has formed book clubs and has led by example and shown peers and students how to have difficult conversations around racial and social justice. Jeanna Tang Ontario-Montclair Teachers Association STUDENTS WITH EXCEPTIONAL NEEDS HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD Jeanna Tang has more than 15 years of solid experi- ence in the field of special education. As a co-teacher, resource teacher, special education department chair, and instructional coach she has upheld — and continues to uphold — the rights of special education students and educators. In addition, she works to eliminate the discrimination that these students and educators often face. Tang currently works for the Ontario-Mont- clair School District as a Teacher on Special Assignment and Home and Hospital Administra- tor Designee. In this role, she ensures that students are prepared to return to their regular day class or an alternative education program at their former level of performance. With patience and under- standing, she works on making sure that her students are successful. By presenting at conferences to share best prac- tices in delivering equitable instruction to meet students' needs, Tang has inspired many aspiring educators as they begin their careers — particularly in special education. As an instructional coach, she is a great mentor to new and veteran teachers. Tang goes out of her way to help teachers plan, help them with classroom coverage, create differentiated materials for specific students, model instruction, support teachers with IEPs at all levels, and to offer professional develop- ment at specific school sites. Tang is a compassionate professional who accepts all she crosses paths with. " The best way to teach is to actually know the students, know them for who they are, and meet their needs," Tang says. "I'm just doing my best to make sure the children feel loved, welcomed and that they can be successful." 29 A P R I L / M AY 2 0 2 3 S

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