9 Hart Vision Awards Announced at the 23rd Annual California Charter Schools Conference

March 16, 2016

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Contact: Emily Bertelli

(Long Beach, California) - Nine inspiring and exceptional leaders and advocates in the California charter school movement received a prestigious Hart Vision Award at the 23rd Annual California Charter Schools Conference, hosted by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), and held March 14-17, 2016 at the Long Beach Convention Center. This year's conference theme, March to One Million, spoke to the growth, momentum and opportunity in California's charter school movement. California is home to the largest number of charter schools in the nation, with an estimated 581,100 students attending 1,230 schools, and an additional 158,000 students on waitlists. Learn more about the event.

The Hart Vision Awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. While serving as state senator, Hart sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools. The goal of the Hart Vision Awards is to annually recognize and honor individuals demonstrating outstanding leadership and excellence in education. The 2016 Hart Vision Awards were presented during the event's plenary sessions.

Elected Officials of the Year:

Assemblymember Shirley Nash Weber represents California's 79th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Chula Vista, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City and San Diego. Weber is a life-long supporter of public education. She was a member of the board of the San Diego Unified School District. As a trustee and subsequent school board president, she became known for her advocacy efforts in closing the achievement gap and setting a higher standard of excellence for all children. As an Assemblymember, Weber has translated her commitment to education into her ambitious legislative agenda. During her freshmen year in the California State Legislature, five of seven of her successful bills were related to education, including ACR 45 urging lawmakers and the governor to restore funding to early childhood education, and AB 56 requiring standards for installing carbon monoxide devices in schools. Bills signed in 2014 include legislation addressing civil rights, education, protections for person with disabilities and voting rights.

Linda Lindholm serves as Vice President on the Orange County Board of Education, District 5. She believes every child deserves the opportunity to succeed to the best of their abilities and that parents must have the ability to obtain the kind of education that fits their child's unique needs. As a Board Trustee member, Lindholm's primary focus is to ensure that taxpayer dollars directed toward education are spent in the classroom. She began her career working with patients and students with special needs, and has worked with teachers and parents to develop and implement programs to serve children with physical and learning disabilities. When she moved to Laguna Niguel, she became actively involved in the community including serving on the Laguna Niguel City Council and various City boards and committees. In 2002, California State Assemblywoman Patricia Bates honored Lindholm with the prestigious Woman of the Year Award. In recognition of her outstanding leadership as an advocate for children and student needs, Linda was honored with the Saddleback Community College Leadership Award in 2005, the Beta Foster Care Community Service Leader Award in 2005, and the Beta Foster Care Child Advocacy Award in 2014.

Charter Schools of the Year:

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The CHIME Institute is a national leader in the development and implementation of a unique model of inclusive education for students with special needs. The school, which stands for Communities Honoring Inclusive Model Education, operates on the credo that everyone can learn in the same classroom at the same time. The institute began with an early childhood program based at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The success of the early childhood program, coupled with the needs of the community and sound research, prompted a group of parents and CSUN faculty to develop a charter elementary school in 2001 and a charter middle school in 2003. Inclusive education at CHIME Institute means that children who reflect the demographics of the surrounding region--including children who develop typically, children with special needs and children who are gifted--learn side by side. CHIME's model allows for the individual needs of each child to be addressed in a manner that enhances his or her strengths while also addressing learning needs. CHIME pioneered the approach for how a charter school provides special education programming to students. The innovation of CHIME's approach has been replicated in hundreds of charter schools across the state with great special education programs that serve thousands of students. The school serves as a model for educators through its partnership with CSUN's Michael D. Eisner College of Education and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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Voices College-Bound Language Academy is a San Jose-based dual-language education immersion (DI) charter school that takes a comprehensive approach to education and believes that dual immersion education is beneficial and desirable for both English Learners and English-only students. What originally began as one charter school, Voices expanded to offer choices to families in need in other communities and now serves students in Franklin-McKinley, Mount Pleasant and Morgan Hill. Voices succeeded in bringing educational options and better opportunities for learning and success to more students despite incredible challenges and roadblocks. Voices provides families with choice and prepares students for higher education and high quality careers from the start of their elementary education.

School Leaders of the Year:

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Malka Borrego is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Equitas Academy Charter Schools and Chair, CCSA Member Council. The network, which was founded in 2009, strives to provide quality education and assures all students in the Pico Union neighborhood of Los Angeles graduate from college. Borrego chose to start a charter school in order to have a creative outlet to serve her community. She initially planned to work on one school; but when the institution showed success and the wait list grew, she realized how many more community children needed a quality education. That drive led her to expand the network of schools. Borrego has worked in educational research at the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation (CRESST) and in the non-profit sector at the Long Beach YMCA as the operations director for an after-school literacy program. She continued her interest in literacy as the Director of Family Literacy at Families in Schools, and at the Salvation Army-Alegria. Borrego participated in the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship, a rigorous, yearlong training program in charter school management to successfully integrate her non-profit management and teaching experience. She continues to be a strong force within the CCSA Member Council to help other charter schools thrive in California.

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Kiumars Arzani is the Founder and Executive Director of Ivy Bound Academy in Sherman Oaks, CA, and a CCSA Capitol Advocacy Leaders (CAL) Liaison. Ivy Bound began as a charter school in 2007, and under Arzani's leadership, the school has ranked in the state's top ten percent of schools every year. Arzani believes that when everyone has a voice, families have access to high quality education. He is a loyal supporter of the charter school movement, and has been a proponent and voice for change and advocating on behalf of charters at the state level. Throughout his career, Arzani worked to educate elected officials about how legislation can impact charter school students and families. His partnership with Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian was the catalyst that led CCSA to create the CAL program statewide.

Teacher of the Year:

Sarah Eun is one of the founding teachers at Larchmont Charter School, and emulates the school's mission to have instructors who are innovative, life-long learners who do whatever it takes to reach every child. She is known for connecting deeply with each student by understanding their motivations and using that to help children learn. Eun has achieved incredible academic advancement results with multiple types of learners, including those with special needs, English-Learners, and low-income students. She takes the time to get to know students, determining their individual strengths and challenges while planning her curriculum with modifications to meet each child at their level. Her former students return to visit her and continually credit her teaching as having a profound impact on their learning. Eun engages her class in discussions that encourage critical thinking and problem solving skills, and consistently inspires students to work to the best of their ability. Her own Korean heritage and experiences as an English-Language Learner have enabled her to be a role model to students and a magnet for parents seeking to understand how to navigate the public school system.

Volunteer of the Year:

Tomasa Espinoza is a parent and active supporter of the charter school movement at Richmond College Prep Schools in Richmond, CA. She has seen all three of her children benefit from a charter school education. She wanted to assure her fellow community members and parents had the same access to school choice that her family received. She joined First Five of Contra Costa County and founded the West County Regional Group to help bring more information and leadership to the parents in her city. Through this group, Espinoza organized the opening of two additional charter schools: Caliber Beta Academy and Summit K2. She attended school board meetings and spoke at hearings for both schools, even though her kids already attended a charter school. As a result of her efforts, Espinoza helped open what will be 1,620 new high-quality charter school seats in Richmond. She not only helped expand school choice options in Richmond, but she helped ensure that all public school students in Richmond would be eligible to receive funds thru the Richmond Promise program.

Supporter of the Year:

Eli and Edythe Broad have spent their lifetime giving back. Their mission is to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Broads created a family foundation in the 1960s as a way to support their charitable interests and causes, which include The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation. An entrepreneur at heart, Eli Broad has applied his same spirit of creating new enterprises to the family's approach to philanthropy and has served in numerous leadership roles on boards around the country. The Broads are strong supporters of the charter school movement, and are vocal about the value of charter school education in the Los Angeles area. The Broads have lived in Los Angeles since 1963.

California Charter Schools and Conference by the Numbers:

  • 1,230 California charter public schools
  • 581,100 estimated charter school students in California
  • 158,000 students on waitlists
  • 4,000+ conference attendees
  • 186 conference breakout sessions, 56 expo presentations/posters, 300 exhibiting companies

Join Us:

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association's vision is to increase student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education. Our mission is to ensure a million students attend charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure. We do this by serving as the advocacy organization that builds the policy environment needed to grow as quickly as possible the number of students attending high quality charter public schools. For more information, please visit our website at www.ccsa.org.