What do a photojournalist, state legislator, news anchor, educator, coach, and physicist have in common? These six outstanding NISD graduates will be recognized as Pillars of Character at the Northside Education Foundation’s annual gala.
Tickets are still available. The event will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the Westin La Cantera Resort, beginning with a reception and silent auction at 5:30 p.m. For ticket information, contact the NISD Partnerships Office at 397-8599.
Almost 700 business partners, community members, and educators will attend the event, which is expected to raise more than $150,000. Funds raised at the event support NEF’s Classroom Innovation Grants-to-Teachers Program, which awarded more than $380,000 to 515 teachers last year.
Each year, Pillars are selected from the nearly 100,000 Northside ISD alumni who have graduated from NISD high schools since 1951. The Pillars represent the six character traits taught to NISD students that are part of the Josephson Institute’s Character Counts program. The Pillars of Character are: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.
“The Pillar Program is a perfect opportunity to recognize outstanding NISD graduates, and it has become the foundation of NISD’s character education program,” says Dr. Deborah Healy, director of Guidance and Counseling. “It is a powerful experience when students actually meet the people (many of whom may have attended the same schools and sat at the same desks) whose traits of responsibility, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, respect, and citizenship make them successful people.”
The 2013 Pillars of Character are:
Scott Kafora, Class of ‘85
Freelance photojournalist and volunteer
Pillar of Caring
When Scott Kafora was six years old, he set his sights on being an architect and achieved his dream. A graduate of Marshall High School, he went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Texas Tech University and used his skills in business management, manufacturing and logistics with the intention of earning enough to pursue another dream, to give back more and take in less. Over the next ten years, he sold his house, truck, clothes and practically everything else so he could travel and refine his photographic skills. He has traveled through more than 30 countries volunteering for the rights of oppressed women and children, working as a freelance photojournalist and teaching English. Today he lives in Kolhapur, India and is working to design homes, schools and curriculum for rescued child laborers and victims of female human trafficking in India. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute and is involved with the Western Maharashtra Child Rights Campaign and the Women’s Empowerment Movement in India.
Trey Martinez Fischer, Class of ‘88
Pillar of Citizenship
Trey Martinez Fischer is a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives, representing the San Antonio--based 116th District since 2000. Martinez Fischer was born and raised in San Antonio, graduating from Holmes High School and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and in 1994 was selected to study as a National Urban Fellow. He is a graduate of both Baruch College of Public Affairs, and the University of Texas School of Law. Rep. Martinez Fischer is the chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States. During his Chairmanship, the Caucus has emerged as one of the leading Latino public policy organizations. Rep. Martinez Fischer is an accomplished lawmaker who serves as a floor leader, guiding key bills to passage or defeat, and is recognized as an expert on House rules of procedure. Most recently, he was named the “Bull of the Brazos,”- an award given by Texas Monthly magazine recognizing him among the best in the Legislature. He has also been recognized as the “2013 Friend of Education” and a “Legislative Star” by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association for fighting harmful legislation that would short-change children’s future.
Keyhla Calderon – Lugo, Class of ‘91
Univision 41 KWEX/Anchor and Reporter
Pillar of Respect
Keyhla Calderon-Lugo is the first one to admit she was not the best student. Although she did pretty well at Westwood Terrace Elementary School and Jones Middle School, she maintained only average grades at John Jay High School. Even while attending the University of Texas at San Antonio, she was easily distracted by outside pursuits. She credits her achievements to her parents and others who believed in her and pushed or cajoled her to reach her dreams. Music, however, was a different story. Throughout her middle school, high school and college years, she played the flute for each school’s band. She was even a member of the San Antonio Wind Symphony, San Antonio Municipal Band and worked as a flute private lesson instructor. Shortly after receiving her communications degree from UTSA, she landed her first job at a local radio station in the sales department. That’s when she realized a career in sales was not a right choice for her. She then moved on to KLDO 27 in Laredo to work as a weather anchor for almost five years. Later she moved back home to San Antonio and is a weather anchor and reporter for KWEX Univision 41. Calderon-Lugo covers education at Univision 41 and has a weekly segment, “Creciendo Juntos”, which focuses on family. In 2011 Calderon-Lugo and several of her colleagues won an Emmy for “Unase al Reto” a health campaign. And while she loves her job and all the people she meets, she says if she wasn’t a journalist she’d be a teacher. So it’s no wonder she married someone who shares her love of music and education, the Holmes High School head band director Daniel Lugo.
Dr. Mike Flores, Class of ‘87
Pillar of Responsibility
President, Palo Alto College
Dr. Mike Flores learned early on about the notion of responsibility and importance of community involvement, and he needed only to look across the dinner table to find a role model. His parents were active in the Mexican-American educational and voting rights movements of the 1960s & 70s. The Holmes High School graduate credits his success to his parents and other mentors who created a strong foundation for him. His leadership skills were instilled at a young age when he was elected class president in his elementary school, and those skills were further put into action when he was elected as student body president at the University of Texas at San Antonio. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree from Illinois State University, and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin, he served 13 years at Palo Alto College before becoming its 6th president in September 2012. Dr. Flores’ priorities include helping high school students understand that higher education is a realistic possibility and community colleges, like Palo Alto College, are key to the economic development of our community. Dr. Flores lives in central San Antonio with his wife Martha, a talented creative director and owner of MM Creative, and their two daughters, Mara Zoe and Mia Ximena, in a 1920’s bungalow.
Coach Danny Padron, Class of ‘69
Texas Lutheran Head Football Coach
Pillar of Fairness
At the end of his junior year at Jay High School, Danny Padron made a decision. He wanted to be a teacher and coach; however, his mother wanted him to be a doctor. The star athlete in football, basketball and baseball, who later served as senior class president, had one ally – his father. Together they convinced his mother and ever since Padron has followed his passions. While attending Our Lady of the Lake University to pursue a math degree and St. Mary’s University for coaching courses, Padron began his coaching career at age 19 at St. Gerard High School. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Texas at San Antonio. While working both as a math teacher and coach, Padron began each class reading quotes from motivational books and discussing the concepts of good character with his students. Padron coached at area high schools across San Antonio, including seven straight playoff berths at O’Connor High School. He is known for inspiring all students to be their best on and off the field. Today he is guiding the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs, a team on the brink of being a power in NCAA Division III.
Dr. Melissa Blough, Class of ‘90
Pillar of Trustworthiness
Dr. Melissa Blough once said that the best word to describe her was “determined,” and she could not have been more right. As an NISD alumni, Colonies North Elementary School, Hobby Middle School, and graduating from Clark High School, Dr. Blough is paving the way in cancer treatment. She currently serves as the Director of Medical Physics for the START Center for Cancer Care, where she not only works with patients on the most effective treatment for their cancer but manages the use of the Cyberknife, a non-invasive device that delivers exact doses of radiation anywhere in the body, even areas that are out of reach of other systems or traditional surgeries. Dr. Blough received her Bachelor of Science degree from Baylor University, and her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She has served as an assistant professor at UTHSCSA, but her greatest joy is encouraging other young people to pursue careers in science and educating them on the opportunities in those fields. She has served on a citywide committee promoting involvement of businesses directly with educators to help demonstrate how math and science are applied in various careers. She has also given presentations to young girls encouraging them to pursue careers in science and mathematics, and she has worked with science fairs at local elementary schools. She is hopeful that sharing her experiences will encourage others to pursue careers in science.