JULY 2013
We are the
Alumni Awards Foundation.
We are a nonprofit organization working to improve
Adventist K-12 Schools. This is our newsletter.
oan and I first attended an Alumni Awards
concerned people with valuable information.
Foundation (AAF) annual gathering in
These events led to the establishment of the
2001. We were impressed to learn that one of
Renaissance Network.
the objectives of AAF was to reach out to those
Joan and I want our grandchildren, great
who had attended an Adventist school and
grandchildren, and all other interested children
had continuing positive ties to the school and
to have access to a Christian education. We are
classmates, but are not currently active in the
inspired and enthused to be able to work together
Adventist church. This “reaching out” by AAF had
with educators, committed parents, church
a deep emotional appeal to us, along
leaders, and students who share
Only as the Lord this vision. We believe that the
with our interest in joining others in
l e a ds a nd a s we Lord is leading and that there is
supporting Seventh-day Adventist
Christian education.
remember how He a resurgence of energy to move
In time we were invited
has led in the past Adventist education forward
to join the board of directors. We
will we be successful. and upward.
attended board meetings, helped
Only as the Lord leads and as we
identify and recognize outstanding teachers, and
remember how He has led in the past will we be
honored alumni. But it seemed that while AAF
successful. The opportunity to be a part of this
was making a contribution to Adventist Christian
effort is what motivates us, sustains us, and gives
education, it was not addressing the “big” issues
us hope for the future.
standing in the way of our schools growing,
We thank God for Christian education, and
progressing and demonstrating the leadership that
we thank God for the Alumni Awards Foundation.
God would have us provide.
Long hours were spent in attempting
to identify areas of excellence in the Adventist
education system and areas that needed new
emphasis or new direction. This led to AAF’s
sponsorship of a series of town meetings across
Dr. George Harding, AAF Board Member
the North American Division that gave the
opportunity for input from a cross section of
Read more online at AlumniAwards.org/News
Oliver Morada, History & Government
Thunderbird Adventist Academy
Morada has the ability to make an ordinary
subject come alive. It is not unusual to see
students acting out a historical event in costume,
or finding Morada standing on a chair, exciting
his students about an event in history.
Guadalupe Negrete, 7th & 8th Grade
El Dorado Adventist School
Negrete has a gift for loving and connecting with
her students. Her classes are always interactive
– creating Spanish art projects and preparing
Spanish cuisine that the whole classroom enjoys.
Her classroom is a model of creative artifacts
and visuals.
In May and June, these 10 outstanding teachers
were celebrated across the North American
Division. AAF board members & staff traveled
from coast to coast to present each teacher
with a $2,000 gift, medallion and Certificate of
Excellence during special events hosted by the
recipients’ schools. Below are the 2013 teachers
that we were pleased to honor with this award.
Olga Simmons, Principal & K – 8th Grade
New Hope SDA School
Simmons is a proactive leader. After becoming
principal, she quickly started fundraising efforts.
For example, she visited all SDA churches in the
Fort Lauderdale area to advertise the need for
textbooks and a new stairway. She also sought
after help to organize and clean the school.
Ophelia Barizo, Science Dept. Head
Highland View Academy
Rachel Simons, English & History
Richmond Academy
Barizo partners with community and
academic organizations to engage
her students in meaningful outdoor
experiences. For example, her class takes
trips to photograph, collect and identify
different species of mushrooms.
Simons instills a “No Slacking” mentality in her
students. Because of her dedication, national test
scores at the school have dramatically increased.
Forty percent of the student body scored within
the top 15 percent in the area of language arts
in 2012.
Tanya Stotz, K – 2nd Grade
San Fernando Valley Academy
Catherine Farkas, 2nd – 4th Grade
Middletown Christian School of SDA
Mainly known as a top-notch educator,
Farkas also coordinates yearly fundraising
programs. In the last few years, she used
Math-a-Thon materials to raise more than
$7,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital that benefits cancer survivors.
Stotz’s unique lessons have her student and
colleagues saying they are spell bound – especially
by her yearly butterfly experience. She brings 250
larvae to school so the students can experience
the entire metamorphosis of the butterfly within
their classroom.
Sara Guzik, Principal & 2nd – 8th Grade
Echo Ridge Christian School
Reymelinda Villaruel, 5th & 6th Grade
Jackson Heights SDA Church School
Guzik’s determination is the reason Echo
Ridge Christian School is open today. In
2011, she raised enrollment through parent
involvement, recruited volunteers, solicited
donations for new iPads, and put aggressive
marketing efforts into place.
Villaruel created a Mathletes program that not
only trains students to compete in mathematics
competitions, but also boosts their selfconfidence in math and their love for the subject.
The school’s standardized test math scores have
also increased each year due to her diligent work.
Shenandoah Valley SDA Elementary
Minty has taken a stand against social
issues affecting children today. He has a
zero tolerance policy against bullying to
ensure his classroom is a safe environment
where every student feels accepted for who
they are.
Jim Minty, 5th, 6th, and Music
T h i s p r o g ra m
wo u l d n o t b e
possible without
the support from
t h e fo l l ow i n g
Andrews University
Loma Linda University
Oakwood University
Southern Adventist University
Walla Walla University
Thunderbird adventist academy
2nd year results
1. Enrollment continually increased from 137
in the first year of partnership to 150 in the
second year.
2. Spiritual and community outreach was
emphasized with the addition of a chaplain
and religion teacher, and with community
service and spiritual-emphasis events.
3. A new math/science teacher was added to
the faculty to offer more classes for students,
including AP and Honors courses.
4. Data assessments of student progress and
instruction were conducted with the help of
Chico State University.
5. Co-curricular experiences including Acro,
Varsity Sports, Student Association and Clubs
were highlighted.
6. Marketing materials were developed and
distributed leading to a significant increase in
tax credits, donations and participation.
This provided $50,000 in annual worthy
student scholarships.
7. Phase two of the dorm renovations
was completed.
8. Administration and faculty were provided
with customer service emphasis training.
n May 2, 2013, Thunderbird faculty and
staff joined the AAF Board of Directors
and staff at the Westin Kierland Resort for a
night of food, fun and visioning. This night
was a great opportunity for the people behind
Thunderbird and AAF to get to know one
another on a personal level and brainstorm
about the future of Thunderbird as a
Renaissance school.
Christ’s ambassadors in a competitive and
progressive world.
Thank you to all the teachers, staff, parents,
conference leaders, students, donors, and
great organizations who are making this vision
a reality.
In May and June, AAF staff and board
members hosted similar events at Madison
Academy and Hinsdale Adventist Academy
to meet the staff and share what is entailed
in being a part of the Renaissance Network.
At every school, teachers participated in focus
group exercises where they gave insight into
these four questions:
• What are the attributes of a healthy, excellent
Adventist K-12 school?
• What obstacles or barriers prevent your
school from thriving?
• What is needed to overcome the barriers you
have identified?
• Going forward, what can the Renaissance
Network do for you, your colleagues and your
school to make it vibrant and excellent?
The insights and perspectives learned from
these focus groups will be used to shape the
Renaissance Network’s vision and objectives.
AAF’s goal is to see Adventist schools thriving,
developing our future church, and serving
as lights in their individual communities.
AAF believes that if Adventist schools are
to become leaders in Christian education,
they must demonstrate that they are the
obvious choice in preparing students to be
TOP: Oliver Morada, Thunderbird Adventist Academy
teacher, shares his focus group’s ideas about
improving Adventist education.
BOTTOM: Ben Purvis, Oliver Morada, John O’Brien,
and Arlene Morada enjoy dessert after the faculty
meet and greet in Scottsdale, Arizona.
P l e a s e !
visit alumniawards.org to
review our presentation and
see more photos from each
Renaissance school.
contact us!
Scho ol managers may b est b e
described as regional managers
of Renaissance Network schools.
The school manager assigned to
each school brings administrative
experience as the mentor and
direct supervisor of the principal,
prov iding onsite professional
support and direction. Among many
things, the school manager ensures
the school develops and implements
an annual, realistic, comprehensive
School Enhancement Plan. They
also foster collaboration between
the local school board, conference
and Renaissance Network.
[email protected]
find us online here:
Alumni Awards Foundation
(Alumni Achievement Awards Inc.)
7201 Shallowford Road, Suite 200
Chattanooga, TN 37421
GREG GERARD, Ed.D. Madison Academy
Dr. Greg Gerard has been Principal of Georgia-Cumberland Academy (GCA) since
2002 and became involved with AAF in 2004, when GCA received the Academy
Award for Excellence. Since then Dr. Gerard has served on the AAF Board of
Directors. Currently, Dr. Gerard is the Renaissance School Manager to Madison
Academy. Prior to GCA, Gerard was principal at Midland Adventist Academy and
Great Lakes Adventist Academy, as well as Vice President of Advancement at La
Sierra University. He holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Western
Michigan University and belongs to the National Association of Secondary
School Principals.
WENDEL TUCKER, Ph.D. Hinsdale Adventist Academy
Dr. Wendel Tucker has nearly 20 years of experience in the public school system
and 26 years in the Seventh-day Adventist education system. Past positions include
Superintendent of the Alvord School District, Vice President of Advancement and
University Relations at La Sierra University, and principal at three different Adventist
academies. Dr. Tucker started working with AAF in 2011 helping to kick start the
Pilot Program at Thunderbird Adventist Academy. His current role is Renaissance
School Manager to Hinsdale Adventist Academy. Dr. Tucker holds a doctorate in
Educational Leadership.
CYRIL CONNELLY, Ed.D. Thunderbird Adventist Academy
AAF welcomes Dr. Cyril Connelly to the team as Renaissance School Manager to
Thunderbird Adventist Academy. Dr. Connelly has more than 40 years of success in
progressively responsible administrative positions in secondary, undergraduate and
graduate education. He has been principal, vice principal, and/or business manager at
seven different academies, as well as Vice President for Enrollment Management at La
Sierra University and Assistant Dean for Enrollment and Development at Loma Linda
University. Dr. Connelly holds a doctorate in Educational Administration from Loma
Linda University.
Board of Directors
Dr. Robert Summerour, Chairman
Dave Briscoe
Dr. Barbara Chipeur
Atty. Gerald Chipeur
Dr. Joan Coggin
Byron DeFoor
Dr. CH De Haan
Dr. George Harding
Dr. Carla Lidner-Baum
John O’Brien Jr.
Ambassador Kathy Proffitt
Arpad Soo
Adela Soo
Max Treviño
Tom Werner
Gary Wilt
Melanie Litchfield – AAF Director
Dr. Wendel Tucker – Renaissance
School Manager
Dr. Greg Gerard – Renaissance
School Manager
Dr. Cyril Connelly – Renaissance
School Manager
Kayce Foote – Communications &
Donor Relations Coordinator
Nichole DeFoor – Administrative