Tuesday April 7, 2009

Ambassador in Education

Danya Berry, a teacher and college liaison at the Dayton Early College Academy, received a national award recognizing her efforts to build community partnerships.

The National Civic League has named Dayton Early College Academy teacher and college liaison Danya Berry as a winner of its 2009 MetLife Foundation Ambassadors In Education award.

Berry is one of 25 teachers who received the award for leadership in building bridges between local schools and communities. DECA will receive a $5,000 grant as part of the award at a local ceremony.

"I wouldn't be in college today if she had not believed in me and made me think for myself," a former student wrote in support of Berry's nomination.

As the first member of her family to earn a college degree, Berry understands the challenges to attending college facing many urban students. Her colleagues describe her as a "teacher, go-between, disciplinarian, advocate, advisor, cheerleader, counselor, volunteer, role model and a link to the community."

Berry is a member of Miami University's Admission Advisory Board and is an advisory board member of Unified Health Solutions, a social service agency focused on promoting health and well-being through education.

"The success of programs like DECA in urban communities requires the involvement of professionals such as Danya Berry," said Thomas J. Lasley, dean of the University of Dayton School of Education and Allied Professions. "She knows the students in a way that permits them to achieve their full potential."

DECA is nationally known for its approach to preparing urban students to succeed in college. The University of Dayton founded DECA in 2003 in partnership with Dayton Public Schools as Ohio's first early college high school. DECA reorganized in 2007 as a charter school operated by the University of Dayton. It is the nation's only charter school operated by a Catholic university.

All of DECA's 80 graduates have been accepted to college. Many of the students are from low-income homes and will be the first generation in their families to go to college. DECA will graduate its third class this spring.

The Ambassadors In Education award recognizes educators whose influence can be felt beyond the classrooms and hallways, who build partnerships with community organizations, parents and guardians; resolve conflicts and promote safety; and participate in civic engagement and community service efforts. Middle- and high-school educators in participating public school districts are eligible. They are nominated by peers, parents, students or community members and selected by a national panel of education and civic experts.

About MetLife Foundation

MetLife Foundation, established in 1976, supports education, health, civic and cultural programs throughout the United States. In education, it places particular emphasis on initiatives that improve public schools, develop the leadership of teachers and principals and involve parents and communities. It makes grants based on results from the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. For more information, visit www.metlife.org.

About the National Civic League

The National Civic League is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to community building and strengthening local democracy. With the 2009 awards, this program has recognized 140 Ambassadors In Education with $700,000 in grants. For more information about the Ambassadors In Education Award visit www.ncl.org/metlife.