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Jeffco Schools

Jeffco community recognized for devotion to diversity

Terry Elliot awarded Legacy Award

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Twelve individuals and groups were awarded a Wayne Carle Award for Outstanding Contributions to Diversity and Inclusion in Jefferson County Public Schools and recognized at the Board of Education meeting Thursday, June 1.

The award’s namesake, Dr. Wayne Carle is a former Superintendent of Jeffco Schools.

The awardees

Two administrator awards were given to Oberon Middle School Principal Tara Peña and Free Horizon Montessori Principal Kresta Vuolo.

According to the award description, Peña believes that diversity builds a stronger community, and has worked to encourage minorities to pursue careers in education

“She volunteers her time to help recruit minority teachers and shares ideas on how to encourage professional development and the advancement of minority staff members,” states her awards description.

Vuolo was described as being a champion in fighting for the rights of Free Horizon’s LGBTQ community and has made the school a “safe place for all.” The school has made efforts to have gender inclusive bathrooms and safe space stickers on doors to let students know that staff are supportive across the spectrum of sexual orientation.

Lindsay Secrest, teacher at Pomona High School and Ann Kelly, K-6 ESL teacher at Shelton Elementary were awarded in the Licensed staff category.

Secrest is the brains behind Pomona’s annual Diversitypalooza celebration hosted every spring. It is a celebration of culture, talent, language, song, dance, art, cuisine, and individuality. Students eat food from different cultures; hear positive messages about individuality, goals, and dreams; watch talented performers on stage, and have the opportunity to have fun in a social environment that promotes unity.

Kelly is known for holding Diversity Teas monthly for international and/or non-English speaking families to get to know one another, share how they can support their child’s education, and learn about the many resources available to them. In addition, with the closing of Pleasant View and half of the families coming to Shelton, she held a special tea for the Pleasant View families this year to make them feel welcome and share the many opportunities available to them at Shelton.

Erika Williams, ESL tutor at Deane Elementary was also awarded for her welcoming spirit of all families; along with Dylan Scholinski, community resource liaison at Jefferson County Open School.

Scholinski is the founder of Sent(a)Mental Studios, the HAVEN Youth Project, and the Sent(a)Mental Project: A Memorial to Suicide and also teaches classes that address a reclaiming of creative voice, self empowerment, identifying /working through personal obstacles, while searching for our most authentic selves.

Scholinski is an “out” transgender employee and teacher and provides support to staff and students within and beyond school.

The PTAs at Mitchell Elementary and South Lakewood and Kendrick Lakes Elementary Schools were also recognized for cultural and diversity events organized at their respective schools.

In addition Tanya Two Two, parent leader at South Lakewood Elementary was given an individual award for the weekly time she puts into the Title VI Indian Education after-school program. She was described as an aunt, “ because she does far more than just show up. She accepts students for who they are and what they bring to the program at that exact moment. She shares her presence with our Indigenous youth.”

Lastly, The Wayne Carle Legacy Award was given to Terry Elliott, acting superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools.

“Elliott was described as being “a supporter of diversity and inclusion and a catalyst for equity in Jeffco schools over the course of his career as a teacher, principal, Chief School Effectiveness Officer, and Acting Superintendent.”

Award presenters said Elliott’s public leadership in the area of diversity and inclusion was highlighted as the district restructured Alameda 7-12, Jefferson 7-12, Stein Elementary, Emory Elementary, and Sobesky Academy when he ensuring that meetings honored languages spoken in the community even to the point of having separate meetings for Spanish speaking families and community members.

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