California Educator

April 2017

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JARED RIO, a veteran Tracy Unified School District teacher and Tracy Educators Asso- ciation activist, received the CTA Peace and Justice Human Rights Award. Rio educates students about the history of human rights in a course he developed that stresses our responsibilities to help others, and to promote and protect one another 's human and civil rights. His student- centered work included raising money and food for the homeless and leading tours of food pantries so students can understand and seek solutions to the problems of homelessness. During Rio's International Day and Week of Peace, students signed a petition calling on Congress to end the conflict in Syria and ease the refugee crisis, and created "peace murals." BETTY ROBINSON- HARRIS, an early childhood educator in San Francisco Unified School District, received the CTA Human Rights Award in Honor of Lois Tinson (past president of CTA). She is a role model dedi- cated to promoting equal rights and opportunities as an educator, trainer, mentor and union activist with UESF. Her work includes creating projects and curriculum that highlight African Amer- ican history and developing trainings and programs for colleagues and the communities they serve. She has made the social and emotional growth of her students a top priority and has touched thousands of families during her teaching career. REAGAN DUNCAN, a teacher in Vista Unified School District in San Diego County, received the CTA Women's Issues Human Rights Award. What started last year as her Facebook post grew into a national effort to provide vital supplies to home- less women. Duncan mobilized friends and colleagues to fill donated purses with items such as socks, hygiene products, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes. The idea spread to New York and Washington state via social media. Duncan's class also filled about 150 backpacks and purses with school supplies and women's supplies to distribute to local shelters. A veteran political activist, she's vice president of the Vista Teachers Association and a delegate to CTA State Council. NAOMI VIOLET FORSBERG, a paraprofessional educator and member of United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), received the CTA Leadership in Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Award in Honor of Nancy Bailey. At her large, urban comprehensive high school's Wellness Center, she provides safe spaces for all students. She facilitates support groups like the Young Men's Health Group and the QGroup, which is a confidential support group for LGBTQ+ students. She co-created the QGroup's curriculum four years ago, and it's now being implemented in more than 10 schools. Forsberg also coordinates schoolwide events, and brings community-based organizations on campus to further create safe, inclusive spaces. GEORGE MELENDEZ, a member of PETA and the CTA Board of Directors, received the CTA Amer- ican Indian/Alaska Native Human Rights Award in Honor of Jim Clark. A teacher in the Palmdale School District, he is an unwavering champion of the values and teachings of Native American cul- ture. He is a leader of the American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus at CTA State Council of Education, where he was instrumental in CTA's recognizing Oct. 12 as Indigenous Peoples' Day. Melendez is dedicated to making CTA members more aware of the rights, issues and concerns of Native Califor- nian students in our public schools. 45 April 2017

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