VUSD Nominates Outstanding Students for Award Celebrating Perseverance

Vallecito Union School District (VUSD) is proud to announce the nomination of three extraordinary students for the 2023 Every Student Succeeding Award. Freddy Dickson, a third-grader at Albert Michelson Elementary; Amelia Humes, a fifth-grader at Hazel Fischer Elementary; and Emma Sage, an eighth-grader at Avery Middle School were all nominated for the honor by teachers, administrators, and staff at their respective schools.
Every year, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) recognizes 19 students across the state—one from each of its geographic regions—for overcoming the odds and achieving success. The Every Student Succeeding Award honors students from kindergarten through high school who have conquered unique challenges, exceeded expectations, and won the hearts of the educators and administrators who helped them reach their goals. To be nominated, students must have persevered through significant obstacles, such as physical, mental, or environmental barriers to learning, while also being active members of their communities and schools. 
ACSA’s regional leaders will choose the final 19 honorees, who will be celebrated at the Every Student Succeeding Ceremony during the ACSA’s Leadership Summit in Sacramento this November, as well as at various regional events throughout the year.
Josh O’Geen, the principal at Albert Michelson Elementary, along with several teachers and staff, nominated third-grader Freddy “The Man” Dickson, who became an outstanding student after overcoming difficulties with learning and communication. Dickson previously struggled to find a learning environment where he felt comfortable, but instead of giving into his frustrations, he worked with a group of educators to test new strategies and find an approach that allowed him to thrive. In the process, Dickson formed a tight bond with the group, who call themselves “Team Freddy.” 
O’Geen said, “We are all privileged and pleased to be able to watch Freddy’s tremendous growth continue. Every day, Freddy attends to tasks in the classroom, communicates his needs, shows empathy for others, works through conflicts, and shows off his newfound positive attitude, which helps him be a more responsible learner. Freddy is truly a super student.”
Dr. Ray Fausel, the principal at Hazel Fischer Elementary, nominated fifth-grade student Amelia Humes for her incredible personal growth during the past few years, which has helped her succeed at school. Humes splits her time between three households, each with its own routines and expectations, making it difficult to stay organized and get to school on time. As Humes learned to manage the emotions that came along with these challenges, she started working harder, excelling in school, and most importantly, feeling much happier.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Amelia,” Dr. Fausel said.  “She’s thriving, and in a few months, she’ll be ready for middle school. So many people here at Hazel Fischer care so much about Amelia. We’re beyond proud of her hard work—I’m sure she’ll keep it up!”
To complete this year’s nominations, Avery Middle School Principal Scott Nicotero recommended eighth-grader Emma Sage for the Every Student Succeeds Award for overcoming a childhood full of medical complications that made school much more difficult for her than most students, both socially and academically.  
Sage almost died as an infant and spent three months in the hospital before being diagnosed with a serious heart condition. Then, when she was five years old, she developed another condition that affected her hearing, requiring her to use a hearing aid and eventually, to undergo a risky surgery two years later. As a result of these health complications, Sage missed many school days and developed social anxiety. Home school was discussed, but Sage, always hopeful and optimistic, insisted on staying in school. 
Despite being absent so often due to her serious health issues, Sage worked hard and with the help of Avery Middle School’s staff, stayed on top of her academics. She’s become close with her teachers and has a wonderful group of supportive friends.
“At Avery Middle School, Emma is known as a caring, creative, resilient, respectful, intelligent, beautiful person with an excellent work ethic, honor roll status, and a bright future, ”Nicotero said.” We are so proud of her success that we couldn’t let her move onto high school without recognizing her story of courage and triumph over the challenges she has and continues to face.”
VUSD Superintendent Tom Hoskins said that he was proud of the nominees and so happy to see them get the recognition they deserve.
“Despite incredible challenges in their day-to-day lives, all three of these exceptional students found a way to live our district’s values, set an example for their fellow classmates, and inspire their teachers.” Hoskins said.
“Congratulations Freddy, Amelia, and Emma. We can all learn a lot from your strength and perseverance. Good luck with your nominations!”