March 8, 2011:
For Immediate Release
Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
SAN DIEGO, California.--An elementary school teacher for Aspire Titan Academy in Huntington Park received the Teacher of the Year award today at the 18th Annual California Charter Schools Conference, being held in San Diego.
Meredith Dadigan, a Chicago native, moved to Northern California just five years ago to join Aspire Public Schools. She moved to Titan Academy when it first opened in 2009.
"This award validates our goal to strive for the best for our students," said Dadigan. "Aspire is special because here we work together, we collaborate and plan together, we plan our lessons, we engage and empower the students and the parents, and that goes a long way."
"Meredith is an example to follow. She is very inspiring, and the impact she's having on her students will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Meredith embodies what the charter movement is truly about," said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.
Dadigan focuses a large part of her lessons on reading and writing skills, encouraging her students to write their own literary essays and present them to the class. Titan has even held publishing parties, where parents and students from the lower and upper grade levels are invited to hear the essays.
In the fall of 2009, only one of her 28 students was reading at grade level, and most were reading several grade levels behind. By the end of the school year, 26 of those 28 students were reading at or above grade level. Meredith says to her teaching isn't a career, it's a lifestyle.
Parent participation is also very important at Aspire Titan Academy, where parents are invited to share their story every Friday--whether it's about their job, their culture, or something interesting about their lives.
"We want everyone to know that they can be part of this charter community and movement no matter their income or where they live," said Kim Benaraw, principal of Aspire Titan Academy. "Through her leadership and commitment, Meredith sets a great example for our students, enabling them to see the promise of their future."
Titan Academy is one of 30 high-performing Aspire schools throughout California. Meredith previously taught at Aspire Berkley Maynard Academy in Oakland. The school received an API of 824 in its first year.
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 goals of the Hart Vision Awards are to recognize and honor annually individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education.
About the California Charter Schools Association*
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 912 charter public schools and more than 365,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.