Four years ago, an astute elementary school principal from Santa Ana, CA, Judy Magsaysay had the vision and wisdom to bring Chapman and the College of Educational Studies (CES) and Padres Unidos (PU) together. Her action stemmed from her understanding the importance the CES faculty had placed on the work and philosophy of Paulo Freire, especially the notion of partnerships with communities. Thus a terrific match was born between the faculty of Freiran studies and Padres’ community workers.
Padres Unidos, an organization that believes successful families breed successful communities, has worked successfully for the past 20 years with countless parents and their children in Santa Ana, CA. In 2011, Chapman’s College of Educational Studies and the Office of Extended Education provided training to Padres Unidos volunteers through a Community Workers certification program. The program included comprehensive modules dealing with education, health, faith, and parenting.
On January 22, Padres Unidos hosted the Orange County Padres Unidos Partner Appreciation Event and awarded for the first time “Partner of the Year” to Donald N. Cardinal, Ph.D., the dean of Chapman’s College of Educational Studies. As Suzanne SooHoo, Ph.D., Hassinger Chair and Co-Director of the Paulo Freire Democratic Project, introduced Dean Cardinal, she indicated that he “is the captain of our ship and he recognizes that that all of us did not come to America on the same ship, but we’re now all in the same boat and that partnership is not just a relationship, but a living idea. It is a living idea about a shared community. An idea that Don Cardinal champions each and every day to all of us – Everybody matters – all races, cultures, languages, religions, abilities, and orientations is a society where all people are treated with dignity and respect. For him, this means that as educators we must work within a community to improve the quality of life for the community and its people. He considers this an honor and a duty to contribute to the well-being of the world.”
While accepting his award, Dean Cardinal spoke these words, “We can all make a big difference by making a small difference each day. Today, thank you for honoring me with this celebration, but we truly are celebrating the difference WE make in the community.”