8 Hart Vision Awards Presented at the 24th Annual California Charter Schools Conference for Commitment to Excellence in Education

March 23, 2017

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(Sacramento, CA) - Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) was honored to recognize eight inspiring and exceptional charter school leaders and advocates with a prestigious Hart Vision Award at the 24th Annual California Charter Schools Conference in Sacramento for their commitment to providing children the best education possible. Since 1995, these awards have been awarded annually to recognize and honor individuals and organizations demonstrating outstanding leadership and excellence in education. The Hart Vision Awards were established 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 recipients of the 2017 Hart Vision Awards are:

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School Leader of the Year, Northern California - Casey Taylor, Achieve Charter School of Paradise, Inc. - Paradise, CA
Taylor, Superintendent for Achieve Charter School of Paradise, is described as a passionate, tenacious, school leader who overcomes all obstacles for the sake of Butte County children's educational needs. Growing up homeless, Taylor knows what it is like to not have the resources needed to succeed in school. Despite this hardship, she developed a passion for education and a dream to work in the industry. She leveraged this passion to open a charter school that would provide high-quality education to all students, regardless of their upbringing. Taylor lead a Butte County board of charter leaders that advocate for charter school rights in the region and has been a steadfast leader on the CCSA's Member Council.

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School Leader of the Year, Southern California - Emilio Pack, STEM Prep Schools - Los Angeles, CA
Pack is CEO of STEM Prep Schools, a set of schools he helped start in the Los Angeles-area designed to create a pathway for students to secure high paying careers in STEM industries. Additionally, Pack is co-chair of the Los Angeles Charter Advocacy Council where he leads the charge for charter school advocacy to transform Los Angeles' school system. Pack's colleagues know him as a visionary and solutions seeker, with a passion not just for his own schools but all schools in the Los Angeles-area.

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School of the Year, Northern California - Summit Public Schools - Bay Area, CA Innovation runs in the DNA of Bay Area-based Summit Public Schools. Summit focuses on having students take charge of their education, allowing them to create and achieve personal academic goals using creative curriculum in a 21st century learning environment. Summit Public Schools aims to become schools of the future and as such hosts a Summit Learning Program for all schools across the nation, regardless of whether they are a charter or traditional public school, to share best practices on how best to serve students. Summit recently received a $10 million grant to open another campus in the Oakland-area so they can increase their impact on students throughout the greater Bay Area-community.

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School of the Year, Southern California - Wilder's Preparatory Charter School - Inglewood, CA
Raymond D. Wilder and his family hoped to one day change the academic trajectory of not just their family, but all children in their community regardless of their race, zip code or upbringing. As such, they opened Wilder's Preparatory Charter School (Wilder's), which holds the belief that all students can learn if given the opportunity, and Wilder's does just that. Wilder's serves a predominantly African American student population and is known as one of the highest performing schools throughout the state, particularly when it comes to closing the achievement gap for African American students.

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Teacher of the Year - Jeanette Perez, The Charter School of San Diego - San Diego, CA
Perez is more than a teacher at the nonclassroom-based Charter School of San Diego. To many students, she is a role model and a second mother. Perez will do anything to put her kids first, whether that's meeting with them one-on-one to make sure they understand assignments, scheduling home visits to help with homework, making sure her students come to class, and keeping in touch with parents and families. Perez' commitment to mentoring her students does not go unnoticed, and as such she has been able to provide exactly what her students have needed - a champion.

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Volunteer of the Year - Jorge Corona, Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo - Huntington Park, CA
Corona's peers describe him as a charter parent with a big heart for kids who is a major force in the charter movement. Corona works with Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo (Aspire) in Huntington Park, working hard to get more families and parents involved in the charter movement locally and fight for more high quality schools for families. With his support, Aspire was able to raise $10,000 to build a new playground, and leaders at the school feel that they can dream bigger and do more for their kids because of Corona.

Elected Official of the Year - California Legislative Black Caucus - Sacramento, CA
The California Legislative Black Caucus was instrumental in leading the charge against the NAACP to reject their resolution calling for a moratorium on charter public schools across the United States. All 12 members, chaired by former State Senator Isadore Hall, signed a letter to the NAACP urging reconsideration and advocating for the success charters have secured in California for historically disadvantaged students.

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Supporter of the Year - Arthur Rock, Arthur Rock & Company - San Francisco, CA
Rock knows firsthand that the key to success in any organization is good management and people who are committed to carrying on the mission of the organization. Rock is one such individual who is passionate about and committed to ensuring the future of our nation's children and their ability to receive a good education and career. Through his support and contributions at the local school level and at the state level for the movement's advocacy efforts, he has made a significant impact on California's charter students that has allowed them to thrive.

Additional Information:

  • More than 600,000 students attend over 1,200 charter schools in California

  • 3,500+ conference attendees

  • 186 conference breakout sessions, 56 expo presentations/posters, 300 exhibiting companies

  • Charter schools are public schools. They are tuition-free and serve all students. Across the state, charter schools are excelling academically.

Caity Heim