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Monica Medina, School of Education faculty member at IUPUI, named Latina Educator of Year


INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard presented Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI faculty member Monica A. Medina the Indiana Latina Educator of the Year award this morning. The honor came during the second annual Mayor’s Breakfast to kick off the Indiana Latino Expo.

Medina is associate director for community partnerships at the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education and clinical lecturer at the School of Education.

The award recognizes a teacher, school administrator or advocate devoted to enriching the lives of children through education and effective teaching practices. In choosing Medina, the selection committee noted her 13 years of work focused on multicultural education within a community school context.  

Medina has been active in the community, serving as chair of the board of La Plaza and executive director of The Hispanic Center. La Plaza formed when The Hispanic Center, Fiesta Indianapolis and El Centro Hispano merged in 2004. HIV education has long been a large part of The Hispanic Center and now La Plaza’s mission. Medina is also program committee chair for the Concord Neighborhood Center, which provides social services, children’s programs, educational opportunities, health and fitness information, recreational activities, and cooperative programs with other agencies.

“I thank the mayor, his staff, the community in general for the honor and the privilege of being awarded for the work I do in this community, which is not really work; it’s more of a passion,” Medina said in accepting the award. “And I really accept this award on behalf of the students, on behalf of the children, on behalf of the future teachers, on behalf of the dreamers. I see them as an investment in our community.”

It is the latest of several recent honors for Medina. Indiana Rep. Andre Carson honored Medina with a 125 Neighborhood Leaders Award. He selected Medina because her work recognizes needs in the community, connects people and brings diverse resources together to address those needs, all while doing so with integrity and inclusion. 

Last year the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis placed Medina on its list of 25 Trailblazers in Health for her work on HIV/AIDS issues. The Health Foundation selected Medina as one “whose passion, efforts and care inspire us.”

“This is a well-deserved recognition for Monica’s extensive and tireless work in K-12 and higher education, as well as on behalf of the Latino community,” said Pat Rogan, executive associate dean of the IU School of Education at IUPUI. “All of us at the school recognize her many contributions to our community and the practice of multicultural education.

At the IU School of Education, Medina has worked extensively in the area of school and community relationships and particularly the operations of full-service community schools. She has led School of Education involvement in George Washington Community School, where she guides pre-service teachers from IUPUI on site who work directly with students in the classroom.

Medina said she teaches most of her courses in schools or community centers as a way to expand multicultural education, creating experiences for genuine encounters among students, teachers, community leaders and culturally diverse families. In 2008, she helped George Washington Community School earn a $2.45 million grant for five years. Medina was principal investigator for the full-service community grant project, which supported the Circle City Learning Community.

Last year, IUPUI was awarded funding for a new regional Center for University-Assisted Community Schools, a project involving the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning with collaborative facilitators, including Medina and the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education in the IU School of Education. The new IUPUI-based center will help implement university-assisted community schools strategies in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois.

The Indiana Latino Expo starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.