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Bridging: Two Nations and Two Languages

Stacey Young-McCaughan, RN, Ph.D., U.S. Army Colonel (retired), Professor, School of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (San Antonio, TX) Dr. Stacey Young-McCaughan serves as Director of Research in the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio for the STRONG STAR Consortium. STRONG STAR, or the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience, is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium designed to understand, prevent, and treat combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid conditions among military Service Members and recently discharged Veterans who have deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Armando Chavez

Armando Chavez is being honored as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change.

As the principal of Columbus Elementary School, I have the honor of serving a diverse population that merits a leader who envisions greatness and provides an opportunity in which the students’ needs are seen as a priority.

The majority of the students who attend our school are American citizens who live across the border in Mexico. I consider myself a service provider who is here to provide any type of resource to stakeholders in the school who are in need. The Deming Public School District plays an integral part in the vision of our school. Together, we foster positive attributes to receive the results we are looking for, both academically and personally. 

Working with a dynamic staff who is as dedicated to the students as the administration is is essential. I could not accomplish one task without the support of a faculty who understands the larger picture of being supporters of a community who in turn depend on the school for leadership. Since the school is seen as the heart of the community, we must provide services above and beyond the status quo.

Providing services for students who are poverty stricken must be in place in order to satisfy the basic needs of our students. We work in conjunction with programs such as the Roadrunner Backpack Program, Rio Grande Education Cooperative, and our after school program collaboratively funded by the county of Luna, City of Deming, and The Deming Public School District. These resources allow me to further enhance the educational setting for all students in our school. 

Our area has difficulty communicating with families across the border. In some cases parents are not able to cross, but the child crosses to receive an appropriate education. Making families feel comfortable knowing their children are safe allows me to further build on the relationships needed to fully assist with our students’ progress. Initiating Skype conferences between both the parents and the school has helped us bridge the gap of communication. When parents need to discuss issues with teachers, a local business has volunteered their facilities to ensure this process can continue seamlessly.

It is with great humility that I share my endeavors on the path of receiving this honor. My teams at the school and district level have given me the opportunity to enhance the school and touch the lives of our children. So many dedicated individuals allow me to soar; thus reaching new levels of achievement and triumph.  Students are the focus; growing and learning will lead them to be productive members of any community in which they choose to live. 

Armando Chavez serves as principal of Columbus Elementary School (Deming Public Schools) in Columbus, NM. The school serves a population in which 99% of the students enter as monolingual Spanish language students. Most of this unique group of students were born in the United States and live across the border in Mexico. During his tenure as the leader of the school, he has emphasized the importance of education.