By Ana Valencia, UTLA /NEA Vice President |From the June 19, 2009 United Teacher • UTLA Newsletter
May 18, 2009, will be remembered as a warm and sunny day when 11 UTLA/NEA members and one community member were honored for their individual achievements at the annual UTLA/NEA “We Honor Ours” Awards dinner.
The WHO awardees, along with their family and friends, enjoyed a hosted dinner at the Monterey Hill Steakhouse.
<The 2009 WHO award winners, with NEA Executive Committee member Paula Monroe (far left) and UTLA/NEA Vice President Ana Valencia (far right). Front row: Janice Lee, Scott Folsom, Mignon Jackson, Mary Toggenburger. Back row: Jimmy Jones, Gwendolyn Baker,Paulette Shelley, Steve Seal, Janet Lucar, Michael de la Torre, and Ernesto Silva-Valdivia.
The audience was treated to a poem from Steven Stovall from Clinton Middle School and a song by Abel Rodriguez from Hollywood High School.
Paula Monroe, National Education Association (NEA) Executive Committee member, delivered the keynote address.
Monroe spoke of the budget crisis that has demoralized our members, robbed our students, and exasperated our association as we seek solutions.
She spoke of the need to get everyone on board the expressway to reform.
As an educational support provider, Monroe is acutely cognizant of the role that each member of the education family plays in developing the whole child.
She explained why it takes a village of determined individuals to nurture a student.
Monroe shared the vision of NEA and its aggressive plan to change the face of public education in the next four years.
Recognition and celebration filled the night as each of the WHO award recipients was honored for his or her outstanding service to UTLA/NEA and its members.
This year, awardees have fulfilled many roles that help make our association stronger through delivering services to the members.
The committee chose to honor the recipients for leadership that distinguished them and inspired their fellow union members to nominate them.
Whatever form their activism takes, these members have devoted countless hours to their union for the betterment of all.
WHO Local Awards
With 30 years of teaching under her belt and an employee number that begins with a “1,” Baker has served in a variety of leadership roles, from South Area Steering Committee member, cluster leader, House of Representatives member, elected PACE member, African American Committee member, and Inner City Committee member.
Serving for the past 18 years as chapter chair, she has gained the respect of teachers, classified staff, parents, and even administrators to build a coalition of all stakeholders at Compton Avenue Elementary School.
Baker has provided exemplary service to UTLA as South Area cluster leader, and she continues to be an outspoken activist for improved work conditions, compensation, instructional support, and parent-community relations.
Michael de la Torre
Commitment, dedication, and altruism are words that personify de la Torre.
He has brought great honor and recognition to UTLA.
Nationally, he is the only California director for the National Board for the Professional Teaching Standards.
After receiving his National Board Certification, he has unselfishly donated his time to assist other future NBC teachers.
Within UTLA, he has served as chapter chair, a House of Representatives member, and co-chair of the Peer Assistance and Review Panel.
His commitment has not ended there; he has organized a multitude of events at Bryson Elementary School, where he went to school as a child, like Family Reading Night at South Gate Park.
He is also a docent for the L.A. Zoo Education program and involved in many other community organizations.
Throughout his 30-plus years in education, Jones has served UTLA in multiple capacities.
He has been a chapter As the UTLA Constitution Committee chairperson, chair, a West Area Steering Committee member, and a cluster leader.
He has been incredibly dedicated to the members of West Area, and he is one of the most dependable members we have.
He works collaboratively with all members in his elected positions on the UTLA House of Representatives and the CTA State Council and as a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly.
At the NEA-RA we can always count on him to help put the seat covers for our delegation on the floor of the assembly.
He has also been featured on the cover of the California Educator for the work he has done in early childhood education.
He has also served on the CTA scholarship selection committee and on the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Committee.
Janice Lee is hardworking, dedicated, and committed.
She has been a servant of students for more than 40 years, 22 of those spent with LAUSD.
As past chapter chair, House of Representatives member, PACE Committee member, CTA State Council representative, and NEA Representative Assembly delegate, she presently devotes most of her time to the Christa McAuliffe and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship fundraisers.
Because she has a passion for helping new teachers improve and encouraging veteran teachers to succeed, Janice Lee holds the office of chair of the UTLA African-American Education Committee’s annual community workshop for salary points.
Janet Lucar is a champion for the rights of adult school educators.
Through her efforts in drawing attention to the inequitable implementation of the new LAUSD payroll system, a UTLA grievance on behalf of retired adult educators was filed.
She advocated for and served UTLA/NEA members in a wide range of positions that have included elementary and adult school chapter chair, cluster leader, Valley West Steering Committee member, Adult Education Committee member, House of Representatives member, CTA State Council representative, NEA Representative Assembly delegate, and UTLA/NEA WHO Awards Committee member.
Seal has earned the recognition of his peers through his hard work and dedication.
He has been a chapter chair, School Site Council member, and cluster leader.
He has served as chair of the UTLA Human Rights Committee and on the UTLA Board of Directors for the Harbor Area, in addition to being a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly.
Steve is an active participant in UTLA actions, recruiting members to get involved, and he often lobbies legislators in Sacramento on budget and education issues.
Shelley has served UTLA members as chapter chair at her school for six years.
She is a member of the House of Representatives and the South Area Steering Committee and a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly and the CTA State Council.
Shelley has recently been elected to the UTLA Board of Directors for the Central Area.
She also served as the WHO Committee chair from 2006 to 2008.
Silva-Valdivia is a dedicated teacher who has demonstrated union activism for more than 25 years.
His tireless support for his colleagues is demonstrated both citywide and in the heart of East L.A., as a UTLA chapter chair, past House of Representatives member, East Area Steering Committee member, and NEA-RA delegate.
He also volunteers at his current site, Humphreys Avenue School, with the Nutrition Network and on intiatives involving information technology.
His fundamental union belief of “An injury to one is an injury to all” helped to displace some of the most difficult administrators.
Toggenburger throws a party like no one else.
The UTLA Retirement Dinner that Mary Toggenburger hosts is the talk of the town each year, and she makes sure all retiring teachers feel truly honored.
Mary has UTLA in her blood.
During the 1989 strike, her mother, current UTLA-R President Loretta Toggenburger, and Mary both walked the line, Mary as a substitute teacher and Loretta as a Valley East activist.
After subbing, Mary moved on to Angeles Mesa and, of course, became chapter chair.
She did her best to improve working conditions there.
In fact, she made sure the principal was removed before she left to come back to the Valley.
Mary currently works at Burbank Boulevard, where she is the chapter chair.
She is also on the Valley East Steering Committee and serves on the Chapter Chair Appreciation Dinner committee.
Vargas is a community-based educator who co-founded the Elysian Valley United Community Center.
The center helps to bring UTLANEA activism into the heart of a small, sleepy neighborhood, home to the Frogtown Raiders.
In fact, one of the students who attended the Elysian Valley United Community Center was a speaker at the National Education Association Convention in Washington, D.C., a few years ago.
As chapter chair of Central High School, Albert helps members who are dispersed throughout the city to come together to voice their issues and act as advocates for their students and their program.
Albert rose through the ranks of UTLA quickly to oversee UTLA political action branch under the direction of Bill Lambert.
WHO State Award
At the local, statewide, and national level, Mignon Jackson is a longtime, well-known, and respected activist.
Jackson is the daughter of two of the founding members of UTLA, and she has never forgotten the lessons that her parents taught: to be active in your association.
She has served as chapter chair, West Area treasurer, and member of the UTLA Board of Directors, the CTA Board of Directors, the CTA Budget Committee, the UTLA Elections Committee, and the Good Teaching Planning Committee.
Jackson’s dedication is further exemplified by her 24 years as NEA/RA delegate, serving as chairperson of the CTA Protocol Committee.
WHO Gold/Community Award
Scott, a frequent visitor to the LAUSD Board Room, is the former president of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA.
It was through his affiliation with PTSA that he came to represent the organization as vice chair of the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen’s Oversight Committee.
This Marshall High School parent maintains a blog called 4LAKIDS, where up-to-date information about LAUSD is disseminated.
4LAKIDS present a wealth of information about Los Angeles Unified School District.
Pithy, witty commentaries accompany news briefs about the state of education affecting the 650,000 students within our boundaries.
Folsom is one of those rare individuals who has committed his life to the District in an effort to create a better learning environment for all.
He is an advocate for kids, students, parents, programs, and the people who make education happen.
He has served on numerous District committees, school committees, and state committees.
He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is or has been a PTA officer or a governance council member at three LAUSD schools.
He has kept a vigilant eye on the ever-expanding Facilities Department as a member of the Budget Committee. (smf correction: the Facilities Committee)
Scott also serves as an elected neighborhood councilmember of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council in Northeast Los Angeles, representing Mount Washington, where he is often found bringing up issues about education and equity.
The UTLA/NEA WHO Awards Planning Committee (Sonia Martin Solis, Janet Lucar, Bruce A.Lee, Greg Laskowski, Jimmy Jones, Linda Guthrie, Dr.Frances Copeland, Sue Cirillo, Susana Betancourt, Jenny Chomori, and Lorena t.Valenzuela) would like to thank all of the people who were involved in this endeavor.
A special thank-you is extended to our CTA directors, Mignon Jackson and Mary Rose Ortega, for hosting the wonderful reception. Do you know an UTLA-NEA colleague who is an advocate of public education and serves the membership in many capacities? You may want to nominate them for a WHO award next year.
The nomination form will be in the winter issue of the UNITED TEACHER, and forms will be available at your area meetings and online.The 2010 UTLA/ NEA WHO Award Dinner will be on May 17, 2010. We look forward to seeing you there.
●●smf's 2¢: If you’ve read this far you’ve undoubtedly figured that that this is a bit of me-me-me narcissistic self-promotion; I hope not. Instead this is a thank you to those who have read and have made sense of the ravings of a lunatic about the madness and the beauty of public education in our city of angels. It was and continues to be an honor to be included in the same room as those who were also honorees; to be a recipient is an undeserved honor that I shall try to merit going forth. To be included among the previous recipients of the award given me is a truly daunting honor.
Thank you UTLA and NEA, we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but we are there shoulder-to-shoulder in the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are sown – hopefully we will be witness when the bounty of knowledge is reaped. Onward!