The common denominators in the work of this year’s CTA Human Rights Award recipients are inclusion, teaching truth, and empowering students and peers. The award-winners’ efforts to unify are especially notable.
Nine educators and one CTA chapter have been recognized for their outstanding dedication to social justice, and for promoting and protecting human and civil rights — within their schools and in the greater community.
“At a time when there are far too many outside forces seeking to stoke division and fear, these inspired educators are showing us how to tackle our past and present honestly, confront injustice, and educate with integrity and courage,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “They are showing us how to create a more equitable future so that all our students can think critically, see themselves in our classrooms and curriculum, and have the opportunity to succeed.”
Following are the awardees, in the order in which they were honored at a special ceremony during CTA’s Equity and Human Rights Conference on March 5.
United Educators of San Francisco
African American Human Rights Award in Honor of Lois Tinson
VanCedric Williams became an educator more than 20 years ago in part because he recognized that to advance the achievement of students of color, and specifically young Black males, they need good role models. Now a high school ethnic studies teacher in San Francisco, he has established a culturally relevant and historically accurate curriculum for his students. Throughout his lessons he weaves in African American and other groups’ culture, values and traditions. He challenges his students to dig for the truth and sets ambitious standards for them.
Having taught refugee students from Sudan, Williams also knows how important it is to be prepared to help all students, particularly those who bring trauma to school. Beyond the classroom, he leads a student mentoring program that encourages and empowers BIPOC students to be their best selves, know their history, and grow leadership skills through community service.
Williams was elected in 2021 to the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education and has worked tirelessly to help eliminate the opportunity gap across all district schools by 2026. Long active in CTA, he currently serves as an NEA director and a member of the CTA Budget Committee. He has been a member of the CTA African American Caucus and the Racial Equity Affairs Committee.
Palm Springs Teachers Association
American Indian/Alaska Native Human Rights Award in Honor of Jim Clark
Christina Alaniz has been involved with the Native community her entire life. A Cahuilla and Serrano descendant of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, she was raised and still lives on the Morongo reservation.
Alaniz volunteered in her children’s classrooms for 11 years. It was there that she found her passion for education and helping students succeed. She became involved in the local PTA and served as PTA president for two years. She worked with her tribe to bring cultu
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