Rhode Island

Richard Garland

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Position: Business and Careers Teacher

School: North Kingstown High School

School District:North Kingstown School Department

City, State: North Kingstown, Rhode Island

About the Nominee: Richard Garland was nominated by his superintendent, Dr. Michele Humbyrd.

Since his hiring, Mr. Garland has brought the North Kingstown High School to new levels with his work in financial literacy. He created the school's first Early Enrollment Program (EEP) courses, where students earn college credit while still in high school. Under his tutelage, over 300 total students have earned Rhode Island College credits prior to graduation.

Mr. Garland inspires students in the classroom. One student said, “it's his enthusiasm to see me succeed. Whether it's at a DECA competition or just in the classroom, he's always pushing us to fully put ourselves to the test. He always makes sure to praise us, even if we don't come out on top, and seeing him smiling at us with pride makes me want to live up to that. Finally, the fact that he made it to the top ranks of IBM inspires me to show that his teaching skills can do the same for me."

Additionally, a graduate said, "He taught us simple life tricks like believing we could do our best, which led us to win that Bryant Bulldog Challenge. He taught us how to do a S.W.O.T. Analysis on case studies, and in my major [at UMASS] I am still using many of those skills today."

Mr. Garland became the high school’s Webmaster and worked to update the site with current information. He began by redesigning the website and holding multiple sessions for teachers on how to build their site, transfer their materials and create links. Furthermore, he worked with other webmasters in the district to help them understand the new online software. When a new teacher is hired, Mr. Garland meets with them, creates a login for them and schedules a date to help with their page. He sent a new math teacher this email:

"Hi...you can send a mass email to parents alerting them to your website using ASPEN. I send an email to students and parents each Friday on the week's stock market performance."

Where Mr. Garland shines is his ability to leverage community/state support for his students and school. He began with the former state treasurer and current governor, Gina Raimondo, and has extended this invitation to his finance classes. The Bryant University Bulldog Challenge took place four years ago, and Mr. Garland was the first teacher at NKHS to involve the business students. His students earned first place for three years. He has brought his Business Club to DECA Club status, and together, they have won many individual and partner medals. His finance classroom students participated in two statewide financial challenges, and in both challenges, he had a student team that placed second overall. In his Leadership in Business class, Mr. Garland gives students the knowledge and skills to create their own business/product/service. There is a culminating project that involves a Shark Tank-style competition judged by companies such as Arpin, Drupal Connect, JWU and People's Credit Union.

Mr. Garland's relationships with professionals in the industry proved to be most valuable this past year; he was the co-author of a Governor's Workforce Grant for $250,000. Using the grant money, he was able to transform classrooms and jump start his bid for a CTE Program in Finance with “Fast Track” certification from NAF. Parallel to working on the CTE Finance application, he is also working to build the computer science components of the curriculum.

Fortunately for North Kingstown, Mr. Garland arrived with a pedigree from IBM. Long known for creating the world's best professionals, Mr. Garland brought the three key beliefs of Tom Watson’s IBM to his work at NKHS: respect for the individual, superlative customer service and the pursuit of excellence in all tasks.

There have been hundreds of emails written to parents from Mr. Garland on behalf of students. He provides inspiration and hope. In the first year of his Introduction to IT class, he encouraged and promoted every student, but there were only two female students in the classroom. Mr. Garland nominated one of them for a technology award at the Tech Collective in Providence, RI, and she won! She received accolades and was invited with her parents to the evening award presentation. The school received an award, as well.

Mr. Garland embraces a challenge, builds trust, works collaboratively, influences with expertise, continuously transforms and helps all stakeholders to succeed. His traits are also the characteristics of an IBMer, and fortunately for the school and district, he brings his best self everyday. He acknowledges others' contributions and champions their cause, which in turn, gives everyone a strong sense of purpose in an authentic environment. Mr. Garland makes NKHS a better place to learn and work!

Manny Ortiz

Position: Director of Graduate Support

School: San Miguel School

School District: Private

City, State: Providence, Rhode Island

About the Nominee: Manny Ortiz was nominated by a colleague, Frank Justin. As a boy growing up poor in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Mr. Ortiz remembers how conditions changed from day to day. In his words, “Some days there was water, then the next day no water. Some days you would have electricity, some days no electricity.” After several years of social turmoil and political unrest in the Dominican Republic, his mother made the decision to return to the U.S. with the hopes of getting a better education for her children. When he was nine years old, Mr. Ortiz remembers arriving at JFK airport, stepping through the doors into a cold, biting winter wind and seeing a sea of yellow taxis. It was just like in the movies.

At school, Mr. Ortiz was struggling in third grade, both academically and socially, because of his lack of English. Initially, the school he attended did not have an ESL program. He was going through the motions of going to school but wasn’t understanding anything. “Let’s go back,” he would beg his mother, wishing for a return to the Dominican Republic. But she was resolute, encouraging her son that he could do it. Today, Mr. Ortiz credits his academic success to his mother for encouraging him in school.

Despite his lack of English, Mr. Ortiz demonstrated both promise and ability to Br. Lawrence, the school's director. Mr. Ortiz began his first year at San Miguel School in the fall of 2000. During the week, he never went out to play in the neighborhood after school. He had 4-5 hours of homework every night because he had to look up all the words in the dictionary to understand the assignment. Sometimes, there were words in the definition he didn’t understand, so he had to look those words up, too. It was a lot of work for him to get good grades.

Mr. Ortiz went on to attend La Salle Academy for high school, where he could not bring home anything less than A’s. His mother would not accept anything less. He became a member of the National Honor Society and gained admission to Providence College with a full scholarship. When he told his mother he was as going to Providence College (PC) for free, she cried.

When he arrived at PC, his deeply rooted value system, gained from his seven years of Lasallian education, led him to create the Step-Up Mentoring Program for middle-schoolers. The intent of Step-Up was to create a mentoring program that would plant the seeds of a college education into the impressionable minds of young middle-school students. Its goal was to begin a transition from middle-school to high school that would eventually lead to college. In Mr. Ortiz’s words, “The idea was to show (students) a roadmap. This is what you need to do, and you can do it. It was a change in attitude from ‘If I go to college, to when I go to college.’”

His mentoring program was so successful and inspirational that PC awarded him the Outstanding Service Project in 2009. The PC Alumni Association also awarded him the “Leaving a Legacy” Award in 2011.

After graduation, Mr. Ortiz became a Clinical Research Assistant at RI Hospital hoping to one day follow to in his mother’s footsteps. At the end of his third year at RI Hospital in 2014, Br. Lawrence offered him the newly created position as full-time Director of Graduate Support of San Miguel School.

Mr. Ortiz was the most highly qualified person for the role simply because he had come through the system himself. He was a living example of what the power of education can accomplish. In his first year, Mr. Ortiz worked long hours to put a system in place that could provide assistance to graduates, begin the transition of eighth graders to high school and deal with the complex issues of financial aid to those students who qualified, which was everyone.

He also established the Academic Resource Center, which connects San Miguel grads attending high school with extra tutoring in language, science and math. The Academic Resource Center is an after-school program where graduates get extra help in academics as well as organization and planning skills. Tutors at the Center are Bachelor’s level college graduates. All of this adds up to a lot of long days for Mr. Ortiz, and he continues to play a vital role in helping to touch hearts and transform lives.

When asked what might have become of him if he hadn’t been fortunate enough to come to San Miguel, he paused and said “Honestly I don’t know. There were a lot of things in the neighborhood that could have easily gone wrong. I can’t picture my life today without the formation and values I received at San Miguel. I don’t think my record would be clean. I would not have been able to enjoy the things in life I am most proud of today: being a home owner, and being a good provider for my wife and my young daughter, Nellie Maria.”

The work Mr. Ortiz has put in to help students makes him a LifeChanger in the San Miguel School community.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="mortiz@sanmiguelprov.org"]

Heather Hall

Position: English Teacher School: Cumberland High School

School District: Cumberland School Department

City, State: Cumberland, Rhode Island

About the Nominee: Heather Hall is the type of person who never fails to greet people with a smile. She is one of the kindest and most compassionate people one could ever meet. Miss Hall works as a Sophomore English teacher at Cumberland High School and is passionate towards her craft. She has a wealth of knowledge and personal experiences which she openly shares with her students. Miss Hall challenges her students to think critically while teaching literature and sharing life lessons, demonstrating how one individual impacts the life of everyone else they encounter.

Additionally, Miss Hall attends every school sponsored event, from proms and spirit week events to student government meetings. She weighs in on how these events should be executed and aides in making sure they run smoothly. Furthermore, she is the class advisor for Cumberland High's Class of 2017. Miss Hall has seen these students through all four years of high school and works to ensure that she can provide them with the best high school careers she can.

Overall, Miss Hall works tirelessly to make sure her students get the best education possible. Even if a student is no longer in her class, she will support them whenever they need it, with no questions asked and no expectations of anything in return. She embodies the characteristics of brevity, integrity, strength, determination and wisdom, which she instills in every student she meets. Miss Hall is without a doubt a LifeChanger; she turns her students into better people when they leave her than when they initially walked through her classroom doors.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="heather.hall@cumberlandschools.org"]

Martin Crowley

Position: Teacher Assistant School: Cumberland High School

School District: Cumberland School Department

City, State: Cumberland, Rhode Island

About the Nominee: Martin Crowley was nominated by his principal, Alan Tenreiro.

Martin Crowley serves as a teacher's assistant in the alternative learning program at Cumberland High School. He is also the school's softball coach and recently led the team to the state semi-finals in Division 1. More importantly, Mr. Crowley is the leader of school spirit at CHS. He attends every school event and makes it his mission to get to know students on a personal level. He is the MC for Spirit Week events, serves as lead "cheerleader" at spirit activities and is the voice of Cumberland High School at many athletic events. His principal says that many times, he doesn't have to even think about needing a volunteer because Mr. Crowley will be there. Mr. Crowley helped his colleagues at the graduation ceremony, attended the post-grad party until 3:30am, returned to school the next morning in shirt and tie at 7:15am, supported students all day and later led his team to the state semi-finals at a night softball game. He cares deeply about students. He is a man of character and integrity, and he instills these values in the students he works with. Mr. Crowley is always positive and willing to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of students. He is a LifeChanger!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="martin.crowley@cumberlandschools.org"]