Originally published on March 30, 2020 for the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education’s (CORE) blog.Linda was president of CORE at the time.
Ann Leon, CORE consultant specialist in Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight words (SIPPS) reading foundational skills program, could not leave Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s primary grade teachers and children without resources. Even when she was to leave and the schools were closing, Ann worked tirelessly with the district personnel to ensure that resources would be available for teachers to be able to continue teaching their children the SIPPS lessons remotely in small groups. She continues this support remotely today. Together, with Pajaro’s Lynda Pate, they created folders online to make accessing the SIPPS word lists easy, and they reviewed where materials for teaching the SIPPS lessons resided online. Even more important, they created packets for children to pick up when they came to the designated location to pick up their free meals.
Pajaro Valley USD is located in Watsonville, CA. Over 80% of the students are Hispanic and of those over 93% are English learners. Over 78% of the students are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Yet despite these statistics, Pajaro Valley is substantially raising achievement by focusing on coaching and mentoring and the building of knowledge and skills in the teaching staff, and thereby building knowledge and skills in the students. The district’s superintendent, Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, is passionate about her commitment and equally passionate about thanking Ann Leon for her undying work and support. Ann doesn’t just work during paid work time; she is often on calls with the district because she cares so deeply about the teachers and students.
The Greeks defined a hero as men or women of special strength, courage or ability and often of divine ancestry. To me a hero is all that plus determination, focus, perseverance, and, above all else, compassion. Ann Leon exemplifies these characteristics. The Greeks credited Athena with the ability to create useful items and crafts. Certainly, Ann Leon has demonstrated she shares this trait.
While this blog singles out just one of our consultants, in truth everyone who works with CORE in some way is continuing to worry about and find ways to support the schools with whom they work. Maya Angelou said it best, “I think a hero is any person intent on making this a better place for all people.”