Celebrate Our Champions of Children

Three ACPS staff members have won awards as Champions of Children.

Substance Abuse Services Coordinator Fredy Martinez has been honored for creating a new program that supports students. Leigh LaPaglia has been held up as an example of outstanding social work and community engagement. Michael Diggins, Dean of Students at Francis C. Hammond Middle School, has been named as an awardee for fostering academic achievement through an innovative focus on student well-being.

The 2019 Champions of Children awards celebrate the efforts of individuals who have been central to establishing life-changing services for the children and families of Alexandria.

Each year, the Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission chooses people from across Alexandria who have gone above and beyond in their work to support children.

Martinez was recognized for creating the blueprint for drug education and intervention efforts at ACPS. Since 2017, he has implemented awareness and intervention campaigns that have involved thousands of students, hundreds of teachers, and several community partnerships. His goal is to build the capacity, resources, and personnel to cover the needs of all the children in Alexandria.

LaPaglia was nominated for her social work and community engagement. She developed food, clothing, and holiday drives that were directly responsive to the needs of families in Alexandria. With a participation rate of more than 40%, her work not only provided support to those in need, it also highlighted the importance of providing resources for social work programs that need it most.

Social work can be such a hidden profession. It’s awesome for people to recognize the work. At the same time, it is a team effort,” said LaPaglia

Diggins was nominated for developing a novel approach to student performance. In his role as the Dean of Students at Francis C. Hammond, he has advanced academic achievement through a focus on wellness. For Diggins, performance and behavior are connected. He pushes students to look beyond the stress of a particular exam and into developing long-term emotional, physical, and academic well-being. He takes a qualitative approach to fostering lifelong learning. In doing so, he has demonstrated that student achievement excels.

Being recognized is a bonus. It really motivates me more to continue doing what I do,” he said.

The awards ceremony will be held on June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Vola Lawson Lobby of Alexandria City Hall.

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