2019 Honorees Celebrated
The Norma Anderson Lifetime Achievement in Education Award was presented to Sandy Austin. A Jeffco educator of over 30 years in Jeffco Public Schools, Austin started out a physical education teacher in Jeffco Public Schools and later served Jefferson High School as a guidance counselor under the principal-ship of now JPS Board Chair, Ron Mithcell. During the Columbine tragedy, Austin dropped everything alongside her peers and quickly became a supportive force to the Columbine Community twenty years ago and continues to be a force among the guidance counselor corps in JPS. She later served another Jeffco high school, where she founded the Believe It Or Not I Care (B.I.O.N.I.C.) program after tragic student suicides at Green Mountain High School. On top of taking her counseling prowess to Pomona High School, she has grown the B.I.O.N.I.C program into a nonprofit organization, B.I.O.N.I.C Team, which not only has expanded throughout Jeffco Public Schools, but also the State of Colorado, nationally, and internationally. After years of service to JPS, Austin announced during 2019 Gala that she will retire this year to serve as the full-time Executive Director of this organization. View this video to learn more about Sandy.
The Salazar Achievement in Philanthropy is presented to Lakewood Connects. Founded by pastor Reg Cox, a coalition of faith leaders and communities were brought together to understand the challenges facing students and families at at variety of Jeffco Public Schools in Lakewood. Supported and encouraged by the City of Lakewood, this group formally became Lakewood Connects.
In 2015, the Foundation created a new award to honor the generous philanthropy of Rob and Lola Salazar, who over many years contributed over $1,000,000 to Jeffco Schools Foundation. Their philanthropy supported our endowment and a variety of literacy efforts and many other projects aimed at closing achievement gaps throughout Jeffco Public Schools.
Lola Salazar served on the Jeffco Schools Foundation board of directors for several years, and both her children attended Jeffco Public Schools. They are both successful entrepreneurs and the Salazar family continues to support educational efforts throughout the City and County of Denver. The inaugural Salazar Family Foundation tribute video is below.
This event raises funds to enhance the student learning and and create two new funds for classroom micro-investments and career pathways. Funds raised will also sustain literacy programs at all grades, visual arts at all grades, basic needs for vulnerable students, and educator professional development. This event provides an opportunity for the entire Jeffco Public Schools community to gather and celebrate our shared vision – success for all Jeffco students.