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Educators honored at celebratory dinner and auction

Photo courtesy to Janice Peregrina

Photo courtesy to Janice Peregrina

Janice Peregrina, Staff Reporter

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The 27th Annual Distinguished Educators Award Dinner was hosted last Friday at the Golden Eagle Ballroom. The evening was filled with guests ranging from teachers, to volunteers, to families, attending to mingle, support each other, and to honor the six recipients of the Distinguished Educators and Service Award.

The event has been hosted by Friends of the Charter College of Education, which was founded in 1978 to support those in the field of education through enhancements such as academic workshops and scholarships. That support was shown through the Silent Auction held at the event. Tables full of gift baskets, travel packages, and fine art were auctioned off to guests who were generous bidders. All proceeds collected from the auction went toward “scholarships for students pursuing their teaching credentials in the Charter College of Education and professional development for faculty.”

The dinner itself was a bustling affair, with some thirty tables filled with guests and volunteers enjoying meals, dessert, and coffee. Guests from and supporting different universities, such as Loyola Marymount University, also attended the event.

Hosts from CCOE peppered the dinner with humorous commentary as well as accolades surrounding the college. Vice President for Student Life Dr. Nancy Wada-McKee talked about how student retention is at “a new peak” and how about 60 percent of last year’s freshman class were first-generation college students.

The announcement of the six honorees commenced first with Ms. Veronica Vega, an elementary school teacher from Dr. Julian Nava Learning Academy, LAUSD. She was tearful as she accepted the award, a crystal eagle statuette, and gave her many thanks to her parents for supporting and pushing her toward receiving a higher education.

Next was Mr. Joseph Martinez, principal at Carpenter Community Charter and employee of LAUSD for the past 25 years. He thanked his distant cousins and a chance event that caused him to move from Las Vegas to California to bringing him to where he is today.

Dr. Shawna Draxton was up next, founding principal of WISH Charter Elementary and Executive Director of WISH Charter Schools, a branch of all-inclusive schools that teach disadvantaged and disabled children “from the beginning that everyone matters.”

Dr. Brian McDonald, superintendent of Pasadena Unified School District, accepted the crystal eagle next. Citing an event from childhood where he was criticized by his teacher for his ADHD affecting his schooling, he “learned back then just how powerful a teacher can be, from the positive side and the negative side.”

The Cal State LA Federal Credit Union was honored with the award as well, for its work “to promote financial responsibility and [improving] the quality of life for those in need of financial service.” The last honoree was Dr. Frances Siu, whose myriad achievements in rehab counseling, veteran education, and research centers on violence against people with disabilities were and are more than enough grounds to be presented with such an award.

Overall, the night was a testament to educators in all fields and symbolized the great importance they hold for the student and beyond.

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