Arizona Education Association

Summer 2016

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18 ADVOCATE | SUMMER 2016 ESProfessional Phoenix Union Classified Employee Honored as White House Champion of Change T he White House honored and celebrated the incredible work of education support professionals (ESP) as 'Champions of Change' – school support professionals in pre-K-12 and higher education who are doing extraor- dinary things every day in our nation's schools. Phoenix Union Classified Educa- tion Association member Cynthia Tercero was one of the twelve individuals from across the country, honored by the White House on May 11, 2016. "Congratulations to these individuals on this incredible honor," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. "NEA applauds their commitment to helping students succeed in school. ESP are our public schools' unsung heroes. They are dedicated profes- sionals who serve their students; willing and generous role models who makes a difference in students' lives inside and outside of school; and advocates for public education." For over 20 years, Cynthia Tercero has been a champion for public education and at-risk youth. As dropout programs coordinator for Phoenix Union High School in Phoenix, AZ., she has created and implemented programs for high-risk youth to help them overcome barriers to graduation. Cynthia has spearheaded the implemen- tation of the Arizona College Application Campaign and Free Application for Feder- al Student Aid (FAFSA) completion events throughout Phoenix Union High School and her district. She organized community partners to volunteer to attend these events and assist students and families with both their college applications and FAFSA. This year, Phoenix Union High School District realized seven percent more completed college applications during the month of the campaign than any other local high school district who participated. The FAFSA completion rate for the district has also increased by 12 percent since she implemented this project. Cynthia also oversees alternatives to suspension programs for her district and facilitates the mandated interven- tion groups that provide a safe place for students to learn resiliency techniques and receive support in areas such as decision making, self-esteem, anger management, substance abuse, communication and positive choices. The goal is to decrease the number of off campus suspension days that students re- ceive while also addressing the root cause of the behaviors. Phoenix Union's number of repeat offenders has decreased over the last 5 years and the completion rates for their mandated interventions have increased. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. A press statement released by the White House stated, "Educators, including school support professionals, often go above and beyond to meet all of the needs of students so they can achieve success both inside and outside of the classroom. The White House is excited to honor and celebrate the incredible work of school support profes- sionals." 14 AEA New Officers 17 ESPecially for Kids Award 19 Primary Election Guide Cynthia Tercero-Sandoval is the dropout programs coordinator for Phoenix Union High School in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been a champion for public education and at-risk youth for more than 20 years. As the dropout prevention programs coordinator and in her numerous volunteer efforts, Tercero-Sandoval has helped students stay engaged in school so they graduate with a high school diploma. Tercero-Sandoval has received numerous awards, including the Community Excellence Award from the Arizona State University Hispanic Mother Daughter Program, the Phoenix College Golden Bear President's Partnership Award for K-12 School Colleague, and the Community Service Award from the League of United Latin American Citizens. She is a recent graduate of the Georgetown University School Justice Reform Certificate Program. n

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