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Meet Nine Leaders in Equity - Our 2023 Lighthouse Award Winners

Meet Nine Leaders in Equity - Our 2023 Lighthouse Award Winners

San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) presents Lighthouse Awards to spotlight champions for educational equity in our schools, districts, and communities. SDCOE created the Lighthouse Awards to showcase the amazing people doing the work to lead others in diversity, equity, and inclusion. These honorees go above and beyond to be a beacon of hope and light for students and adults in a system that wasn’t built to meet the needs of each individual. 

Honorees were recognized during the 2023 Equity Conference on Jan. 19 to 20. The conference, which drew more than 1,100 attendees from across the state and beyond, features local experts, nationally recognized speakers, and educators implementing systemic change to support all students.

“SDCOE is committed to ensuring educational equity for all students across the county,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “It is a mission that requires the commitment and effort from everyone in the community and we are excited to highlight those helping us reach that goal by going above and beyond in their classrooms, schools, and community.”

Congratulations to the 2023 Lighthouse Award recipients:

Dr. Tiffany Campbell is the deputy superintendent in San Marcos Unified School District. She received the Equity Champion award. She spearheaded her district’s first equity team last year and held the first districtwide Equity Conference: Equity is Empathy. She is a strong supporter of the district’s LGBTQ community, and spearheaded a new mental health program and campaign to help students in need of emotional and mental health support.

Douglas Corbin, a principal at the Contra Costa County Office of Education Court and Community School program, was also recognized with the Turnaround School Site Leader award. Corbin prioritizes rigorous science content and student relationships with a focus on transforming lessons to be culturally responsive. He ensured that every teacher is equipped to integrate science and academic discourse in their classrooms as they cultivate an equitable learning environment for every student.

Molly Engblom is a school counselor in Poway Unified School District, where she supports students to make the pledge to help create No Place for Hate schools and creates activities that are valuable, engaging, and help students become No Place for Hate leaders on campus. She received the No Place for Hate award.

Tram Le-Harkins is an English teacher at Mount Carmel High School in Poway Unified School District, where she is a strong voice and advocate for the school's equity work. She also developed an ethnic literature course where students have a safe space to share their lived experiences and discuss the role of race in their lives and in the broader society. She received the Turnaround Teacher award.

Dr. Alberto Ochoa is a professor emeritus in the SDSU College of Education. His lifetime commitment to community empowerment for educational equity and excellence has inspired countless educators and community leaders, which is why he was recognized with the Community Equity Champion award.

Ilde Ojeda is a student support specialist at the SDCOE Juvenile Court and Community Schools north region, where he inspires teachers, counselors, students, and parents to persevere as critical thinkers who collaborate and solve real-world problems. He received the Turnaround Support Staff award.

Brittni Rudolph is a teacher on special assignment at San Onofre School in the Fallbrook Elementary Union School District. She serves as the school’s Innovation Lab instructor for grades TK-6 STEM students, and she is the driving force behind creating a culture of awareness, acceptance, and inclusion at the school. She received the Turnaround Teacher award.

Joy Ruppert is a student at San Dieguito Academy in San Dieguito Union High School District, where she has been a change agent and advocate championing the voices and communities of marginalized youth and people of color. She received the Student Equity Leadership award.

Dr. Matthew Steitz, principal at The Preuss School UC San Diego, received the Turnaround School Site Leader award. Steitz examines and seeks to improve or dismantle systems and practices that contribute to inequities in education for black and brown students. He also uses restorative practices in lieu of suspension to address behavior concerns.

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