Racquel Welch-Kitchen, Hamilton Middle School honored as Ambassador in Education

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ambassador-educationTwenty five public school teachers from across the United States were recognized today by the National Civic League with the 2009 MetLife Foundation Ambassadors In Education award. The teachers were selected for their leadership in building bridges between local schools and communities and will receive $5,000 grants for their schools at local awards ceremonies.

“Effective education is a collaborative venture that depends on good teachers, as well as administrators, parents, an engaged community, and students themselves,” said MetLife Foundation President and CEO Dennis White. “These teachers are leaders and innovators, who inspire students, peers, and neighbors to make schools and communities strong.”

welch-kitchenRacquel Welch-Kitchen of Hamilton Middle School in Long Beach was recognized for launching the Career and Leadership (CAL) program at Hamilton Middle School, a semester-long class in which students investigate careers, go on field trips to local government agencies and participate in leadership development activities. Technology allows students to participate in virtual job shadowing and to research careers. She volunteers to facilitate community meetings and works with outside nonprofit groups.

“Raquel has connected students with city government, local colleges and universities, public service agencies, nonprofit groups and arts organizations,” writes Principal David Downing, “organizing both on-site experiences and field trips for students to increase their involvement in the community.”

The additional 2009 MetLife Ambassadors In Education are:

  • Atlanta Public Schools, Natalie Brandhorst, North Atlanta High School
  • Baltimore City Public Schools, Sandra Mosley, Edmondson-Westside High School
  • Boston Public Schools, Constance Borab, Boston Day & Evening Academy
  • Charlotte/Mecklenburg Public Schools, Jennie Griffith, School of International Business and
  • Communications Studies at Olympic
  • Chicago Public Schools, Pat Jonikaitis, Kate S. Kellogg School
  • Dallas Independent Schools, Bobby Simmons, School for the Talented and Gifted
  • Dayton Public Schools, Danya Berry, The Dayton Early College Academy
  • Denver Public Schools, Holly Wells, Martin Luther King Jr. Early College
  • Des Moines Public Schools, Sallie Hedgepeth, Ruby Van Meter School
  • Detroit Public Schools, Joyce Smith, Randolph Career & Technical Center
  • Fort Worth Independent Schools, Dalynn Cross, Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School
  • Greenville County (South Carolina) Schools, Rachel Turner, Mauldin High School
  • Hartford Public Schools, Christine Tocionis, Richard J. Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts
  • Los Angeles Unified School District, Michael Monagan, Widney Special Education Center
  • Minneapolis Public Schools, Caroline Hooper, Minneapolis Southwest High School
  • New York City Public Schools, Heather Waters, Millennium Art Academy
  • Philadelphia School District, Alandra Abrams, Tilden Middle School
  • Providence Public School District, Gerri Lallo, Providence Academy of International Studies
  • San Antonio Independent Schools, Tamara Ford, Lanier High School
  • San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Unified Schools, George Cachianes, Abraham Lincoln High
  • School
  • St. Louis Public Schools, Lucy Ryder-Duffey, Carnahan High School of the Future
  • Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Schools, Julia Cobb Barnes, Young Middle Magnet School
  • Tulsa Public Schools, Carol Axley, East Central High School
  • Washington, D.C., District of Columbia Public Schools, Joseph Chisholm, Hardy Middle School

“These are some of the most gifted and dedicated teachers in the country,” noted National Civic League President Gloria Rubio-Cortés. “Each and every one of them tells an important story about how professional educators, parents, students, business leaders and community organizations work together to improve both their schools and their communities.”
The stories told by this year’s winners are as varied as the individuals and the communities they serve. They include a drum and dance ensemble to connect African and African-American students, a student community service project in Guatemala, and a distinctive service learning program that engages students with special needs with their community.

The Ambassadors In Education award was established in 2003, after MetLife’s annual Survey of the American Teacher identified a growing gap between public schools and their communities. The award is designed to recognize educators whose influence can be felt beyond the classrooms and hallways thanks to their efforts to: build partnerships with community organizations, parents, and guardians; resolve conflicts and promote safety; and participate in civic engagement and community service efforts. Middle and high school educators in participating public school districts are eligible and are nominated by peers, parents, students or community members and selected by a national panel of education and civic experts.

MetLife Foundation, established in 1976, supports education, health, civic and cultural programs throughout the United States. In education, it places particular emphasis on initiatives that improve public schools, develop the leadership of teachers and principals, and involve parents and communities. Its grantmaking is informed by results from the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. For more information, visit www.metlife.org.

The National Civic League, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to community building and strengthening local democracy, administers the program. With the 2009 awards, this program has recognized 140 Ambassadors In Education with $700,000 in grants. For more information about the Ambassadors In Education Award visit www.ncl.org/metlife.

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