WhyTry'S Resilience in Action Award

As the world leader in academic resilience, we meet individuals every day who exemplify resilience in action – unsung heroes who serve as a beacon for youth, co-workers, and the community by exhibiting resilience and fostering it in all who cross their path. They are all around us – counselors, teachers, administrators, community leaders, entrepreneurs, parents, and volunteers.  We’ll be recognizing these individuals and sharing their stories once a month on our website. We call this recognition the Resilience in Action Award.  Each December, one of the year’s 12 recipients will be formally presented with the prestigious Resilience in Education Award.  

NOMINATION FORM

 

NOVEMBER 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
Callan Clark, Englewood Schools, CO

Callan Clark

Executive Director of Student Services at Englewood Schools Callan Clark receives the Resilience in Action Award from WhyTry Founder Christian Moore.

It was nearly 20 years ago that Colorado Native Callan Clark became a school psychologist and began to fall in love with the idea of social-emotional education – focusing on the whole child and working to meet the needs of every student – not just those who were struggling on the surface.

It’s this same attentiveness to student success that has led Callan to become the executive director of student services in Englewood Schools, a small district in the Denver metro area. “I wanted to make a difference for more than just school-wide,” she explains.

And make a difference she has. In a working class community with over 70% free and reduced lunch, Callan has made it her personal mission to bring social-emotional learning and resilience education to the forefront at Englewood Schools. “There’s not always a sense that there is innate resilience in our students, so be it the teachers’ belief, the parents’ belief, or their own belief, a lot of times our students are not looked at as resilient individuals. I want to change that,” she says.

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october 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
Richard K. Thompson, Swartz creek, MI

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WhyTry Founder Christian Moore presents Richard K. Thompson of Swartz Creek Academy with the October Resilience in Action Award at the GearUpToLead Conference in Flint, MI

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." This quote from Invictus by William Ernest Henley covers the walls, papers, and virtual classrooms of the Swartz Creek Academy, a non-traditional education platform where students come to personify the phrase. "It is our ethos, if you will," says October 2016 Resilience in Action Award recipient Richard K. Thompson, Dean of Students at the Academy and influential alternative education advocate. "No matter what happened before, they have the power over their future." 

With a passion for motivational latin phrases, Thompson fills the halls with expressions and sayings meant to inspire his students to action. He believes responsibility is the key concept for all students, and he works to ensure this message is consistent for youth of all backgrounds and learning styles. "Virtus et Scientia," Thompson explains, " is our motto. It means schools have the character formation, and then the education." 

Thompson believes every student is a possibility, not a challenge. "It is my honor!" he exclaims. Students at the Swartz Creek Academy include both referred and volunteer students. "Some are homeschooled, some are truant, some are phobic, some come by choice or are looking for advanced placement options." No matter the background, students are welcomed into a learning environment where they are responsible for their own successes. Thompson incorporates a Power Desk theory, where students and educators sit level at a round table. This is also an example of how the facility exemplifies Surrendering the One-Up practices.

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SEPTEMBER 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
AKIN AKINNIYI, PHOENIX, AZ

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Co-workers Shakira Simmons, Principal, and Laurie Swanson-Petticomb, Assistant Principal, present school counselor Akin Akinniyi with WhyTry's September Resilience in Action Award recipient

While Akin Akinniyi, better known as "Mr. A" at Villa de Paz Elementary School in Phoenix, AZ, describes his experiences growing up as "blessed," it is clear he understands and the hardships faced by students in his community.

"My mission, in partnership with school educators, families, and community members, is to support students by providing a comprehensive and developmental program including education, intervention and consultation," he explains. Mr. A perceives his own opportunities and resilience successes as ways to push his students to strive for more. He believes, "There comes a time for all of us where it seems easier to give up and/or just settle. To me, the concept of resiliency is to persevere through that time and come out a better person." 

"Akin Akinniyi exemplifies foundational leadership and resilience by demonstrating choice in action. Through his leadership as school counselor, students are learning self-management and discovering that regardless of the situation, your response is always under your control. Our students and staff look forward to his positive professionalism and caring, and our school climate is all the better [for it]," says Melissa Sawyer, co-worker of our September Resilience in Action recipient. 

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JULY 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
LOURDES BAKER, ELGIN, ILLINOIS

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WhyTry Program Director Mark Merrill congratulates Lourdes Baker on being July's Resilience in Action Award recipient

Coming from a family of twelve siblings, life has been anything but easy. But the will to survive, excel, and succeed in life has been a self-instilled discipline that has taught her the biggest lesson: Resilience. This was what she would need to survive. This was and is the key to her success.

Imagine moving from the comfort of familiarity, Mexico, and being plunged into a world of chaos where the language was different, the culture was unfamiliar, and you felt like an outsider. Welcome to the U.S.A. No one in Lourdes’s family spoke English. Her parents each had no more than an elementary school education. Yet still, they had taken this chance on life, and had moved to the United States. Their lack of education provided limited options as far as job placement, so both her parents and many of her siblings found work in the fields in order to provide a better life for the family.

While the family worked hard in the fields, nine year old Lourdes had been placed in the first grade. What an awkward situation for a child this young. She was taunted by other children with racial slurs that she didn’t understand at the time. Because of a language barrier, no one in her family was able to come to her aid. Yet still, Lourdes Baker endured. Even when children do not understand the words, they understand the treatment, the body language, the pain of being shunned.

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JUNE 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
JOHN ROBERTSON, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA

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WhyTry Founder Christian Moore and WhyTry Program Director Jason Johnson congratulate John Robertson on being June's Resilience in Action Award recipient

“[Resilience] means finding a way - no matter what you lack – to accomplish your goals. Resilience means making a delicious meal with whatever you have in the fridge,” responds WhyTry’s June 2016 Resilience in Action Award recipient, John Robertson, when asked what resilience means to him personally.

Robertson is Program Services Director for The Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, a not-for-profit association that represents individual agencies across the state. The Florida Network works to connect troubled youth ages six and older and their families with valuable resources including counseling, youth development, family strengthening, as well as safety, housing, and support.  

“I serve the caregivers of our 29 member agencies by connecting them to each other and expert resources wherever I can find them, like WhyTry,” says Robertson. After meeting with WhyTry founder Christian Moore in 2015, the Florida Network added the program to its growing list of resources. “I have met many kids who can succeed no matter their circumstances and many who fail despite being surrounded by support. Why Try is the only program that comes close to teaching us what those intangible assets are that make the difference.”

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MAY 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
TOM MCCOLLUM, OXFORD, CALIFORNIA

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WhyTry Founder Christian Moore congratulates Tom McCollum on being May's Resilience in Action Award recipient

Near Oxford, California, resides an educator who has helped thousands of students achieve academic and life-long success. Though recently retired, Tom McCollum continues to be a strong advocate and resource for students.  McCollum believes “every student should see him or herself as a learner,” and he has dedicated his life to helping students of all ages, demographics, and circumstances achieve this resilient mindset.

McCollum taught for over 38 years at almost all academic levels – from junior high to the local university. His personal motto has always been, “you don’t judge people, you just work with them.” This perfectly demonstrates his passion for helping students of all walks of life succeed. His drive was quickly recognized by his fellow academics, and McCollum was invited to facilitate a program called AVID, a college readiness and student success program for children in the area. 

In a community with an average yearly income that hangs around $22,000 and a demographic of nearly 87% Hispanic and immigrant students, McCollum found he struggled to keep students engaged with endless writing assignments and lessons that were difficult for students to relate to.

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APRIL 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
DANIEL VAZQUEZ, DADE CITY, FLORIDA

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Counselor Daniel Vazquez is congratulated by coworker and fellow counselor Nancy Montoya on being April's Resilience in Action Award Recipient

With a median household income of just over $28,000, Dade City, FL students struggle with unique economic and social/emotional challenges.

To help facilitate learning in this environment, Daniel Vazquez, a counselor and member of the Student Support Team, provides basic needs for Lacoochee Elementary School students. From clothing and transportation to behavioral and emotional support, Vazquez concentrates on giving students the best opportunity to make education a priority.

“All of what we do is to help support our kids inside the classroom as well as outside the classroom.  We want to help not just the academic child but the whole child,” says Vazquez.

After the loss of his mentor in the 2001 World Trade Center attack, Vazquez came to understand the importance of resilience. He has dedicated his life to the memory of his cousin and good friend, David Lemange, by offering the positive adult relationship many of his students need.  

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FEBRUARY 2016 RESILIENCE IN ACTION AWARD: 
JENNIFER DAVIS, NEW HOPE OKLAHOMA

Jennifer Davis

WhyTry Founder Christian Moore and WhyTry Program Director Jason Johnson congratulate Jennifer Davis on being February's Resilience in Action Award recipient

For a child, watching a parent go to prison can create a sense of isolation and trauma that doesn’t go away without help. So, with these children in mind, help is just what the New Hope Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma is offering. 

New Hope got started when members of the Episcopal Church learned, while visiting a local prison, that the greatest concern of inmates was the children they had left behind. Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation, affecting over 26,000 children in the state. These children, according to recent studies, are five times more likely to enter prison than their peers.

Jennifer Davis has made it her personal mission to help the children of incarcerated adults find support and hope through New Hope. Davis, an LPC, discovered the organization when she moved to Oklahoma from Nebraska a few years ago, and its mission struck a chord with her. “I really felt like it was something very special and needed in the state,” she says. “It was something I wanted to be a part of, if even a small part, so I started working 10 hours a week for them running after-school groups.” Two years later, Jennifer runs all of New Hope’s programming – from after-school programs to summer camps – and it’s a career she feels passionately about. “Being a voice for these children, being a voice for criminal justice reform in our state, in my mind is a perfect fit,” she says.

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Resilience in Education Matters.

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