Joanne Ahola Presented with Hart Vision Award for Volunteer of the Year at the 21st Annual California Charter Schools Conference

March 5, 2014

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Contact: Dannie Tillman
(213) 924-2439

(San Jose, California) - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) presented the annual Hart Vision Award for Charter Volunteer of the Year to Joanne Ahola of Golden Valley Charter School in Sacramento. The award was presented today at the 21st Annual California Charter Schools Conference held March 3-6 at the San Jose Convention Center.

Joanne is the mother of four children, including two who attend Golden Valley Charter School, and is a member of the school's board of directors. Joanne is a firm believer in charter schools and is a strong advocate for charter partnerships with the traditional school system to ensure all children receive a high quality education.

"Joanne sees the vision," said Monica Eisel, president of Golden Valley Education Foundation. "She sees how it helps our students and the charter school movement and education in California at large."

Joanne is being recognized for being an outstanding advocate and an example of what one engaged and passionate parent can do for the charter school movement. She has partnered with school leaders and teachers to visit every class at Golden Valley Charter School to talk about the importance of parent advocacy for charter schools. Through these meetings and efforts, more than 50 parents have signed up to support advocacy efforts on behalf of the charter school movement.

She has worked to inspire and mobilize the parents at her school to learn more about the issues charter schools face. Additionally, Joanne has convinced several parents to attend local school board meetings in order to become familiar with their school's decision makers.

"She is a role model for other parents, and has encouraged other parents to advocate for charter schools," said Andy Silvert, business and operations manager at Golden Valley Charter School in Sacramento.

Joanne feels strongly that if parents want to be part of the decision-making process that affects children and education, parents need to understand the issues and take action.

"If we want choice, we need to make our voice count and be heard," said Joanne.

CCSA was so impressed with Joanne's passion and ability to mobilize parents, the Association recently hired her as a Parent Organizer for the Sacramento region.

Past winners of the Hart Vision Volunteer of the Year Award include: Cheryl and Tommy Kitahata from MATES in Los Angeles (2013); Erika Ross from WISH Charter School in the Westchester area of Los Angeles (2012); Brian Rogers from Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland (2011); Peter Trueblood from North Oakland Community Charter School in Oakland (2010); and Lindsay Sturman from Larchmont Charter School in Los Angeles (2009).

The Hart Vision Awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. While serving as state senator, Hart sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools. The goals of the Hart Vision Awards are to recognize and honor annually individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education.

The California Charter Schools Conference has been held annually for 21 years, offering resources, guidance, and advocacy support to a charter school movement that has grown to 1,130 schools serving 519,000 students. Nearly 3,000 attendees are participating in this year's conference. Learn more about the event.

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 1,130 charter public schools and more than 519,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to empower parents and educators to unleash a new era of innovation within public education so that highly autonomous and accountable schools of choice provide quality learning opportunities for all California students. The Mission of CCSA is to enable our members to increase the number of students attending quality charter schools in California as quickly as possible by securing policy wins supportive of charter schools and providing the supports necessary to open and expand quality charter schools. For more information, please visit