Arizona Education Association

Winter 2012/13

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Page 21 of 39

WE ARE AEA! • WE ARE AEA! • WE ARE AEA! • WE ARE AEA! The White House and the President's aea members named ChamPions of Change Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics honored educators who have devoted their time and efforts to working in communities, inspiring their students to excel and promoting the teaching profes- sion by setting a strong example in the class- room. Two AEA members, Selina Alonzo and Guadalupe Meza, were among those honored this past September as Champions of Change for their service to education. Selina Alonzo represents an outstanding commitment to children and families in her community. As an English teacher at Maryvale High School, Alonzo demonstrates a love of learning and a passion for her profession. She was named her district's 2009 Teacher of the Year and was also honored in 2010 with the Esperanza Award given by Chicanos por la Causa, Inc. As a community member, Alonzo represents urban families by serving on the meeT The eduCaTion ChamPions By Selina Alonzo I figured out early in my teaching career that Love changes people, it moves them and it inspires them. my students would allow me to educate their minds if I first taught their hearts. Love changes people, it moves them and it inspires them. I am honored to be a White House Champion of Change because I believe that change, true and deep, happens after individuals have an experi- ence with love, and so I am dedicated to show- ing the students on the west side of Phoenix how worthy they are of love. I will champion this cause for the rest of my life. As a Christian, I am called to live out the principles outlined in the Bible. Micah 6:8 tells us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. When I read this, its essence resonated intensely within me. It was enough to become my life's basis, but I had no clue how this would play out in a high school English classroom. I began to doubt the career path I had chosen, so I pursued other options. I was still in college and still had a profound desire to teach, but the call in Micah 6:8 ignited a desire to seek change for the community that had raised me. The injustice and cruelty that was present in my neighborhood catapulted me into working to see justice reign and kindness 22 Winter 2012/13 x AEA Advocate prevail. I wanted change for my community. This new trajectory, this passion to see lasting and systemic transformation, led me to work for Neighborhood Ministries, Inc. in 2003. During my time on staff with Neighborhood, I was asked to read a book called With Justice for All by Dr. John Perkins. I encountered a new way to love my community when I read this book. I saw a new framework by which to approach my work and my life. Dr. Perkins ascertains that there are three R's to community development. The first is relocation. Relocation means that you become one with the com- munity you are serving. This was easy for me because I was already there. I didn't have to move one block to live in a community of need. Living within a community brings solidarity and creates family. The second "R" stands for reconciliation. Working for reconciliation means that you fight to break oppressive cycles, close achievement gaps; it means that you live Micah 6:8 – seeking justice and teaching kindness. Reconciliation brings the community together allowing each member to work out the existing problems as a combined force of like-hearted people. The last R is for redistribution. The goal of redis- Board of Directors for The Neighborhood Center, through Neighborhood Ministries. As an expression of her faith, she is committed to working for justice by living, teaching, serving, and fellowshipping in the same Phoenix com- munity in which she was raised. Guadalupe Meza is a Spanish Educator at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Meza has dedicated her instructional career to motivate her students (Native and non-native speakers) to fight for their dreams and not let anybody or obstacle interfere with their goal of acquiring a higher education. In her seven years of teaching, she has been able to help impact the lives of many students, and help them find scholarships and motivate non-native Spanish speakers to keep learning Spanish. Meza's teaching philosophy impacts her students more, because of her unique, non- traditional, yet knowledge-filled, approach to learning. 2 Continued on page 36

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