At a dinner and ceremony at CTA’s annual Equity & Human Rights Conference, held in San Jose on March 2, six members and one chapter were recognized as the 2019 Human Rights Award winners.
An important part of CTA’s mission is to secure a more just, equitable, and democratic society and to promote human and civil rights. CTA’s Human Rights Awards Program celebrates efforts to advance and protect human and civil rights within our ranks. The winners:
CTA Service Center Council Human Rights Award: Student California Teachers Association
César Chavez “Si Se Puede” Human Rights Award: Sandra Martínez-Galván, Unified Association of Conejo Teachers
CTA Member Human Rights Award: Leigh Cambra, Association of Carmel Teachers
CTA Peace and Justice Human Rights Award: Shane Parmely, San Diego Education Association
Leadership in Lesbian and Gay Issues Human Rights Award in Honor of Nancy Bailey: Kurt Dearie, Carlsbad Unified Teachers Association
Physically/Mentally Challenged Students’ Issues Human Rights Award: Darci Gibson, Garden Grove Education Association
Women’s Issues Human Rights Award: Kyna Collins, UTLA/NEA
A few details about our winners:
As a Spanish and English teacher, Sandra Martínez-Galván, Unified Association of Conejo Teachers, has worked with students in her high school and in her community to instill pride of Latinx and Hispanic cultures and history and cultivate their leadership skills. As a result, her students are able to fully participate in campus and community life. She has brought awareness to the needs of DACA and DREAMer students with a support group that now involves students from three high schools. Also, Martínez-Galván brought parents together to help them access health, education and safety resources and to meet monthly with district officials to advocate for their students. These parents have expanded their leadership roles into the community.
High school health education teacher Leigh Cambra, Carmel Teachers Association, helps teens make the world a better place. She created the This Club Saves Lives club with her students several years ago; it has grown to 70+ members who together with students in her classes carry out significant community and global service projects. She has led student efforts to bring awareness and actions to end the water crisis, and collect feminine hygiene products for homeless women. She spearheaded initiatives to collect socks for the homeless; fill backpacks with school supplies and distribute them to elementary school students; repair and decorate a local safe house for women who have been trafficked; and much more.
English Learner support teacher Shane Parmely, San Diego Education Association, has become a leading advocate in the immigration issues roiling her community. In response to the U.S. Border Patrol vetting and then dumping asylum seekers on the streets (sometimes in the middle of the night), Parmely has worked with the San Diego Rapid Response Network to collect and organize food, funds, safe shelter, transportation and medical care for individuals and entire families as they wait for their appeals to be processed. Parmely herself has opened up her home, in one case on Christmas Eve, to several families who found themselves with nowhere to eat or stay.
Kurt Dearie, Carlsbad Unified Teachers Association, became the teacher adviser to the first Gender Sexuality Alliance club in Carlsbad in 2002. Despite hostility from school board members, administrators and teachers, as well as personal attacks from the community, Dearie and his students have persevered through the years to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the district and beyond. Through ongoing workshops, they’ve provided more than 1,000 educators with tools to address issues facing LGBTQ+ students. They’ve organized no-hate-speech campaigns and World AIDS Day assemblies, expanded the GSAs in district schools and partnered with community organizations that help families struggling with HIV/AIDS. Dearie himself has counseled and supported hundreds of students.
Darci Gibson, Garden Grove Education Association , is passionate about using music bring life-changing experiences to physically and medically challenged students, while promoting equal educational opportunity. At the Mark Twain Special Education Center in her district, she developed an engaging, individualized music curriculum based on motor skills, language skills and social skills for her students, who range in age from preschoolers to adults. She collaborated with classroom teachers to help her students grow, including using technology to compose melodies, manipulate sounds and discover their voice. Her students have learned to work with and interact with each other, and now perform two concerts a year.
Kyna Collins, a high school English teacher and UTLA/NEA member, stands up for issues that predominantly affect women, such as parental leave and childcare. She fought hard to make sure educators at her charter school got the same 12 weeks of paid parental leave that traditional school teachers receive. On her local’s bargaining team, Collins stressed the economic and personal benefits of parental leave and its help in attracting and retaining teachers. Rebuffed by the all-male district officials across the table, she met one-on-one with female members of the school board to get their support. She had colleagues bring their children to a school board meeting to speak on the issues. She rallied members to hold out for the full 12 weeks, and they won.
The Executive Board of the Student California Teachers Association adopted the language of a 2018 NEA Representative Assembly resolution and made elimination of White Supremacy Culture and institutional racism statewide goals for the year. Through organizational changes and its fall 2018 Social Justice Symposium, SCTA worked to gain a greater voice for all members in policy- and decision-making and encourage broader leadership, improve intergroup relations, design and implement projects about the meaning of human and civil rights and how to protect them, and more. SCTA board leaders and members – all of whom participated in the changes – crowded the stage to accept the award.