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12th Parents Step Ahead Parent of the Year Awards

NISSAN Title Sponsor of the 12th Parents Step Ahead Parent of the Year Awards.

By Beana Ramirez

For several consecutive years, Nissan has been the title sponsor of the Parents Step Ahead (PSA) Parent of the Year (POY) Awards, where parents are recognized not only for their contribution to the education of their children but for the contributions they make to their schools and the community. Thanks to Nissan and additional sponsors, community leaders, academic leaders, corporate executives, families and students came together on December 8th in Dallas, TX to celebrate the 12th PSA POY Awards to honor parents whose involvement in their children’s education distinguish them above all others. The 2017 Parent of the Year honorees included: Gloria Campos and Bertha de la Cruz from Bowie Middle school, Imelda Mendez from Farine Elementary, Martha Oro from Sudie Williams Elementary, Mayola Bartola Balero from Brandenburg Elementary and Corey A. Cole, from Sam Houston Middle School.

Since 2006, PSA has honored and empowered parents and legal guardians from school districts throughout North Texas. To qualify for the POY Award, parents or guardians are required to be active volunteers at the schools where PSA hosts parent programs during the year. Each school is asked to nominate up to 10 parents for the award. To complete the nomination process, parents need to submit a letter stating the importance of parental involvement in schools, and to talk about their life, challenges and achievements. Their son or daughter are also required to submit a letter stating why their parents deserve to be selected as “Parent of the Year.” A panel of judges comprising of local and national community and corporate leaders select the winners.

(L-R) Larissa Rodriguez – Sr. Sales Director, Frito Lay North America and PSA Board Chair; Vicki Smith, Corporate Social Responsibility, Nissan North America, Inc.; Keynote speaker 2016 CNN Hero Jeison Aristizabal, and Lupita Colmenero, PSA President and Founder.

(L-R) Lupita Colmenero, PSA President and Founder; Imelda Mendez, Parent of the Year, Odalys Mendez, and Debbie Gordon, Community Relations Liaison, Educational Testing Service.

For the past four consecutive years Nissan has been the title sponsor of this program. “Nissan is committed to supporting the education of children, and Parents Step Ahead works with their parents, empowering them to help their children succeed in school. Together, our partnership makes a real difference in helping students reach their full potential,” says Vicki Smith, senior manager, Nissan Corporate Social Responsibility.

In addition to their award and several other prizes, the 2017 POY were pampered on their special day, thanks to the generosity and commitment of JCPenney, who provided the honorees, their children as well as the keynote speaker with a head-to-toe look to wear to the event along with a beauty makeover by consultants from the retailer’s Sephora, inside JCPenney and The Salon by InStyle.

“We believe it is up to the parents to build the strong foundation needed in their children’s future because they are the key to their success in life,” says Lupita Colmenero, President and Founder of PSA. “Studies show that the more parents involve themselves in their children’s life and education, the greater the likelihood their children will succeed. We also know parents need help and that is the reason PSA exists. We can’t make this effort possible without the support of great people and great corporations such as the sponsors and partners of the 2017 POY Awards. We encourage everyone to get involved in the future of every child.”

Thanks to American Airlines, this year PSA was delighted to have the 2016 CNN Hero of the Year, Jeison Aristizabal as keynote speaker.

(L-R) Manuel Garcia, McDonald’s; Arnoldo Cerda, Goya; Kherri Jean, Johnson & Johnson; Cristina Lopez, JCPenney; Kumarie Deokielal, American Airlines; Henry Talavera, Polsinelli; Susie Garcia, McDonald’s; Mark McClendon, Tarrant County College District; Vicky Smith, Nissan; Jason Aristizabal, Keynote Speaker; Larissa Rodriguez, Frito Lay; Keiry Flores, American Airlines; Susan Fox Clemmons, American Airlines; Lupita Colmenero, PSA Founder; Marlyne Roundtree, American Airlines; Jessica Narvaez, Pinnacle Group; Javed Nooriwal, American Airlines; and Robert Bard, LATINA Style, Inc.

(L-R) Johnny Quezada, Eileen Suarez, Mark McClendon, Ed.D. Vice Chancellor for Finance Tarrant County College District, Claudia Vivar, Larissa Rodriguez, Bertha De la Cruz, Henry Talavera, Jonathan De la Cruz, Alejandra Leal, Gloria Campos, Karla Campos, McKenzie Cole, Corey Cole, Carolina Velez, Juan Velez, Martha Oro, Omar Velez, Imelda Mendez, Odalys Mendez, Angel Adrian Lopez, Mayola Bartola Balero, Cristina Candia Lopez-JCPenney Director, Inclusion & Diversity, Lupita Colmenero, Jesse Cortez-Hewlett Packard, Global Inclusion Effectiveness Lead inclusion & Diversity, and Robert Bard, LATINA Style, Inc.

Aristizabal was born on July 5, 1983 with cerebral palsy. During his childhood and adolescence, he endured long periods of rest, post-surgical in bed and in wheelchairs. During his school years, he was a victim of bullying and was socially isolated facing adversity which led to lack of opportunities. However, with the unconditional support of his mother, he overcame the social barriers that were presented throughout his childhood. Aristizabal became a strong advocate and made his mission to help others. In 2001, he founded the Association for the Disabled of the Valley in his home garage providing life opportunities to children with disabilities in the District of Aguablanca in Cali, Colombia. In 2006, he participated in a national TV reality show called “Tengo una Ilusión”, and became the winner of a house that he uses to provide special services for over 150 children.

In 2016, CNN INTERNATIONAL network honored Aristizabal as CNN Hero of the Year. The international recognition was broadcasted live on CNN, and opened doors to him worldwide allowing him to offer benefits to more children. Aristizabal is currently studying law at the University of Santiago De Cali, Colombia, and he is determined to improve the quality of life of children with disabilities.

The 12th POY was a success thanks to the collaboration and support of partners, sponsors, staff, parents, and teachers. Pinnacle Group provided each POY honoree with a desktop computer and Hewlett Packard Enterprise provided laptops to the children that nominated the winners. PSA thanks its partners for making it possible to celebrate and recognize parental involvement in schools. American Airlines, NISSAN, Goya Foods, Walmart, JCPenney, Pinnacle Group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Educational Testing Service, McDonalds, LATINA Style, Inc, El Hispano News, Comerica Bank, Polsinelli Law Firm, Frito Lay and Southwest Airlines.

(L-R) Larissa Rodriguez, Sr. Sales Director, Frito Lay North America; Levy Campos; Karla Campos; Gloria Campos, Parent of the Year Henry Talavera, Shareholder at Polsinelli, and Lupita Colmenero PSA President and Founder.

(L-R) Jonathan De la Cruz, Bertha De la Cruz, Parent of the Year, Cydya Thomas, Sr. Specialist Inclusion & Diversity, JCPenney and Lupita Colmenero, PSA President and Founder.

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