Greater Austin Chamber recognizes educators for excellence

Posted on 11/14/2017 by Drew Scheberle

Annual award ceremony recognizes instructors for their outstanding work in the region

On Tuesday, November 14, at the annual State of Education luncheon, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce recognized top performers and innovators within the Central Texas education community. The winners are leaders who directed their schools to impressive heights this past year.

APIE College Readiness Advocate Award
Alicia Stites of Austin Partners in Education (APIE) was awarded the College Readiness Advocate Award. During the 2015-16 school year, Alicia worked at Reagan Early College High School where she prepared freshmen for successful entry into the campus’ Early College High School program and postsecondary success.

This past summer, she tutored rising freshmen and sophomores during the Summer Bridge Program at Travis Early College High School. In less than three weeks, 11 out of 12 of her students became college ready in both reading and writing. Those students are now participating in Travis’ Early College High School program and have the chance to earn an Associate Degree upon graduating from high school.

Alicia has proven herself to be a flexible, dedicated, and hard-working advocate helping students become college ready.

College Access Champion Award
Our 2017 College Access Champion is David Schwartz. David has represented Texas A&M University as a partner on our Financial Aid Saturdays Program for over a decade and contributed greatly to the program’s success. Year after year, he represents A&M and is there working alongside our volunteers helping students and their families -- one at a time -- understand their college applications, financial aid, college readiness and enrollment process. He leads by example and has developed many of his protégés to become excellent advisors in their own right.

Agent of Change Award
Our Agent of Change is Craig Shapiro. As a high school principal, Craig has built a team of excellent counselors to deliver results. In his new role as Austin ISD’s head of high schools, Craig implemented a district-wide high school RISK report to look at student changes in grades, absences, and discipline which suggests when students might falter off course towards graduation. Craig used this data to connect students with academic resources to ensure they get back on track. Every year, Craig has had one of the highest FAFSA submission rates and robust Financial Aid Saturday attendance where he compiled a record for 100 percent college application rate.

He will be instrumental in ensuring that models like Early College High School and P-Tech maintain quality while building additional relevance for our young people.

Higher Education Leadership Award
Our Higher Education Leadership Award goes to Dr. Richard Rhodes, President of Austin Community College. Over the years, Dr. Rhodes has built a strong relationship with the Greater Austin Chamber and our DTC70 partnership. He has restructured ACC and is considered an innovator for digitizing the student support process to help students more quickly graduate. Dr. Rhodes has supported the formation of Austin as a 'Talent Hub' to re-enroll ACC stop-outs to help them have greater economic opportunities. He has also supported our Financial Aid Saturdays partnership which yielded a 70 percent regional FAFSA submission rate for the Class of 2017.

Human Capital Award
Our Human Capital Award goes to Shaun Cranston, Board Member of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the 2017 State of Education Council for his outstanding civic leadership.

For nearly a decade, Shaun has helped the Austin Chamber with our education efforts and helped launch the DTC70 Coalition, a nationally recognized education business partnership. Through his efforts, Shaun was invited by the Office of former First Lady Michele Obama to discuss the DTC70 program and has served as the spokesman for the Austin Chamber on ten Intercity Trips, five Federal Advocacy Trips and national groups faced by the same challenges as the Austin region.

We are proud of all of our winners and congratulate them for their efforts to help our smallest residents.

Related Categories: Education and Talent