As principal of McKinley Elementary School on Santa Barbara’s Westside, Handall led the school out of federally designated underperforming levels — Program Improvement — and subsequently increased the school’s Academic Performance Index score by 100 points between 2008 and 2011. He also brought the AVANCE parent and child education program and Padres Adelante initiative to the school.
“Emilio has really done a great thing with the school and within the school system,” Santa Barbara Education Foundation executive director Margie Yahyavi said. “We really wanted to honor him as a professional who has made a difference in the community.”
Handall said he felt honored to receive the award among a community of talented educators.
“I was incredibly excited and honored and humbled,” Handall told Noozhawk. “There are a lot of incredible educators in the community and to be selected as person of the year means a lot.”
Handall, who grew up in Carpinteria, began his teaching career in Oxnard. He came to Santa Barbara in 2008 as principal of McKinley School and has since been promoted to assistant superintendent of elementary education for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
He said he is currently focusing on developing common core state standards at local schools — a national movement to implement learning standards for the 2014-2015 academic year.
“I want to make sure that every single student in our district and our city gets a high quality education,” Handall said. “I want to make sure they’re able to contribute to society and to make society better with their knowledge. I want to ensure the quality of education we’re delivering is the best we can give and that it’s improved every single day.”
The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, another key community advocate for public education, will also be honored at the October ceremony. Formed in 2003, the Women’s Fund is a volunteer-run organization that has granted $3.6 million to 47 nonprofit agencies that benefit women, children and families.
“This is a group of conscientious women who have made a huge impact in Santa Barbara, and particularly in Santa Barbara schools,” Yahyavi said. “(SBEF) really wanted to honor them for the effort they’ve made to make this community a better place.”
Women’s Fund founding chairwoman Carol Palladini said many of the organization’s 600 members don’t know about the award yet, but said they will be thrilled.
The Women’s Fund continues to support public school programs through its funding of educational organizations like the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, Future Leaders of America and The Parent Project.
“Although the broad mission of our grant process is to benefit women, children and families, our members have consistently voted grants that aid and promote the education and educational preparedness of local children,” Palladini said in an email.
The Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s annual HOPE Awards benefit honors individuals and groups committed to public education in the community. The fundraising event enables the foundation to continue to support programs for local students and teachers.