Newspaper Spotlights Three Educators Making a Difference

  • The efforts of senior staffers from three Council of the Great City Schools’ member districts are highlighted in a recent Education Week special report entitled “Leaders to Learn From.”

    Andria Amador is Boston Public Schools’ senior director of behavioral-health services, who over a decade has cemented a partnership the University of Massachusetts-Boston and Boston Children’s Hospital to foster the staffing of mental-health professionals in the schools.

    Chimere Stephens, leader of NYC Men Teach and senior director of diversity recruitment in the New York City Public Schools system, has played a key role in building a pipeline to expand the ranks of men of color in the city’s teaching force.

    And Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval, family and community engagement manager at Phoenix Union High School District, garnered recognition for her work empowering students through the participatory budgeting process.

    EdWeek describes its annual profiles as “the only district recognition program run by a news organization. This year’s 12 profiles highlight various levels of leadership in districts and seek to describe successful and innovative strategies that other districts might emulate.

    In Boston, Amador has become what she calls a “mental health saleslady” who works to persuade hospital officials, as well as university and nonprofit leaders, that a “focus on prevention and promotion of mental health” in the schools needs attention, according to EdWeek.

    The partnership is called the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model.

    In New York, Stephens said his approach to recruitment is to “start early,” even high school, according to EdWeek. Said Stephens: “If we wait to recruit solely from the schools of education, we know that the demographic and the target audience that we’re in search of is not there. Our approach is to really meet people where they’re at.”

    New York ramped up Educators Rising, a high school program, and draws college students through an internship program. The district has added 4,000 male teachers of color in eight years.

    And in Phoenix Union, one of the largest high school districts in the country, Tercero-Sandoval has set up a system to give students a voice in how some of their schools’ budgets are spent.

    According to EdWeek, students have won filtered-water stations, a relaxation room for students to destress, and even more comfortable seats. In a big initiative, students districtwide have been allotted $500,000 to spend on public safety measures.

    There’s a civics lesson here too—students submit ideas for consideration and the students use authentic voting machines to choose the projects they want implemented.

    Tercero-Sandoval told EdWeek that student misgivings over the approach evaporated when proposals began being implemented. She expressed strong support for treating young people as equal partners in the education process.

    “Kids are amazing,” she told the publication. “Every time I say they can’t amaze me anymore, because I know how amazing they are, they do.”