By Okon Ekpenyong
The National Public Charter Alliance has recognized Tonya Kelly, a teacher at Horizon Science Academy Elementary School in Columbus, as one of the 10 changemakers for 2022. The National Public Charter Alliance recognizes those who constantly strive to make a positive difference in and out of the classroom.
The 2022 Changemaker Award took place on May 12 at a virtual celebration. National Alliance for Public Charter schools also honored sixteen bi-partisan lawmakers, including Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine. These individuals won the Champion for Charter award for their continuous dedication to ensuring that charter schools strive and expand.
“I’m honored to receive this award and will continue to do what I can to help Ohio students and schools thrive because I know that one size does not fit all when it comes to education. Giving Ohio families quality school options is fundamental in ensuring that each child’s unique needs are met,” Governor DeWine told The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The ceremony was part of the National Charter Schools Week celebration honoring thousands of educators, school administrators, parents, students, and community members for their commitment to charter schools.
Nearly 3.4 million students have attended Charter schools in the United States. Charter schools are in forty-four states, including the District of Columbia. Approximately 7700 charter schools exist across the country, and they have received over $440 million in federal and state funding. Over 206-thousand teachers work at charter schools. According to data released by the National Alliance for Public Schools, charter school enrollment increased by seven percent during the 2020-2021 school year, marking the “largest” increase since the mid-2000s.
Kelly told the National Public Charter Alliance, “This award is a great blessing and allows me to showcase what I do in my community and my school, and that is to show acceptance, inclusion, and respect for all youth and families who I service.” Ms. Kelly is also the founder of Empower Our Youth Foundation, which strives to educate the public on the danger of bullying and provide resources for prevention.
“When you work in Education, it is a labor of love, and that’s why I am excited to be honored among fantastic community leaders and school leaders across the United States. It’s a passion, a joy, and a privilege to receive the honor. In my sixth year of teaching, it is a blessing to be one of the recipients because it is like a village award. Receiving the award in the same category as executive board members and legislatures in power in their prospective line of work was such an honor,” Tonya Kelly told the New Americans Magazine.
National Alliance for Public Charter schools also honored sixteen bi-partisan lawmakers across the country, presenting those individuals with the Champion for Charter award for their continuous dedication to ensuring that charter schools strive and expand.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York, U.S Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Senator Brian Schartz of Hawaii, Congressman Sanford Bishop of Georgia, and Congressman John Moolenaar of Michigan were among the recipients. Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Hawaii Lt. Governor Josh Green of Hawaii accepted the award from the State level.
“I’m honored to receive this recognition and grateful for the work the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools does to ensure parents and students have access to quality schools that best fit their needs,” Senator Blunt told the NAPCS.
Rep. Chad McCoy of Kentucky, Rep. Catherine Brown of New Mexico, Senator Siah Correa of New Mexico, Hemphill, Senator Troy Heinert of South Dakota, Wyoming Senators Ogden Driskill (R), Affie Ellis (R), and Charlie Scott (R) were the remaining recipients.
“I always told all of my students that it doesn’t matter where they attend school because they all have the same right to an excellent education,” Kelly said.
“Educating all students to the highest possible standards is our aim and mission at Horizon Science Academy. They are our future leaders. Even though Covid flatlined Education for almost two years, seeing the smiles on those kids’ faces and hugging them is what this award is all about, creating future leaders,” Kelly added.
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