Artículo principal: Dawn Sandoval, directora fundadora de Catalyst Maria

Dawn Sandoval is the founding director of Catalyst Maria, which is a Catalyst Charter Schools campus that serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade. This is her 31st year in education and she has always dreamed of working with and developing other educators to ensure that they can remain in education for life, in a sustainable way. She believes that when educators and school staff members stay in a school for a longer period of time, the school community can flourish and that is when real growth occurs.

Over the past 31 years, Dawn has come to know education inside and out, having worked in a variety of roles. She started out as a chemistry teacher and took on different roles as assistant principal, curriculum director, and now principal. All of this experience has been incredibly important to the way he has led his team over the last year.

Last spring, when Dawn and her team faced the COVID pandemic and the challenges it brought to their families and the school community, she credits her incredible team of staff and teachers for helping students get all the supplies they they needed to feel connected. and keep learning. It was during that time that his team really questioned what they had control over and what to prioritize, and that was providing high-quality educational platforms for their students from afar. Within 10 days of the school closing, 800 devices were sent to families and all students were on their way to continue learning. They regularly surveyed families to see what they needed and gave it to them right away. Classroom teachers were given a short list of families to check.

One of the things that helped keep communication strong even from afar was due to the fact that Dawn made sure that Catalyst Maria had a strong communication foundation before the pandemic. Their goal is for 100% of parents and family members to come to school in person on a regular basis for events, including student-led conferences. They usually reach around 95%. This practice really set the stage for “we’re all in this together.”

As this school year began, Dawn made sure all students had a full school day. Every day, students log in to receive live classroom lessons and independent work. More than 90% of academics attend regularly: 95% in high school and 92% in elementary school. She also ensures that various Maria committees focus on social justice. The Legacy team has a strong focus on social justice this year and the newly formed Anti-Racism Committee is working to ensure that teachers and staff have the tools and knowledge they need to practice anti-racism in the classroom.