Center for Educational Justice Presents Awards to Two Outstanding Educators

A pioneering African-American educator and an administrator praised for his success with diversity education were honored for their achievements in educational justice at the Center for Educational Justice’s Summer Institute held Tuesday at the University of Redlands.

The 105-year-old Dorothy Inghram was honored for her many decades as a trailblazing educator and received the “Lifetime Achievement in Educational Justice Award.” The university also announced the creation of a scholarship in the alumna’s name to be given to a student in the School of Education.

Inghram, a longtime San Bernardino resident who remains active in the community, became California’s first black school district superintendent in 1953 when she assumed leadership of the Mill Creek School District. She also was the first African-American teacher in San Bernardino County and its first black principal.

Inghram studied music at the university on a scholarship and graduated in 1936. She returned years later and earned a master’s degree in education in 1958.

At the Summer Institute’s luncheon during which she was honored, she talked about her path to becoming an educator—and how grateful she was to the university for its support of her as she pursued a music degree 75 years ago.

“If it had not been for the university, I would have never been able to do anything in life, because I couldn’t go to college,” she said. Her brother was studying to be the first African-American doctor in the city and their family did not have the money to put both of them through school, she recalled.

Inghram is an author of five books and is currently working on a sixth, and has been widely recognized for her success in opening doors to area black educators. A public library branch in San Bernardino is named in her honor, as is an elementary school in the city.

Eliseo Davalos, a former administrator with the Corona-Norco Unified School District who is now the assistant superintendent for curriculum/instruction and accountability for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, received the inaugural “Outstanding Educational Justice Practitioner Award.”

Davalos served as the director of student services in the Corona-Norco district for 11 years. He was a mentor for student cohorts through a program sponsored by the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators and oversaw the district’s diversity education programs. He helped design and implement student transition programs at the intermediate and high school levels as well as UNITY classes, which bring together those from different backgrounds and experiences, at each of the district’s high schools and alternative school campuses.

His work on diversity issues led to the creation of a three-day district-sponsored diversity camp for high school students; more than 2,000 district high school students and 400 district staff and volunteers have since participated in the camp.

“I do the work I do because it’s the right work to do,” he told the audience. “I’m humbled by this award. It’s the work of the children and the work of the community, and all I’ve really been is a good shepherd.”

The work of these outstanding educators was highlighted during the Summer Institute of the Center for Educational Justice. Workshops and presentations at the annual one-day event are designed to heighten the awareness of educational justice and the critical issues facing America’s K-12 schools.

The School of Education at the University of Redlands has a unique focus on educational justice, from the doctoral level with its Ed.D. in Educational Justice to courses and programs throughout the School. Its Institute for Educational Justice sponsors symposiums throughout the year to explore topics on educational justice.

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