People often do their jobs or volunteer without thought of the impact they are having on others’ lives. These individuals educate, change attitudes, provide care, and make a meaningful effect on the community.
The Roseville Human Rights Commission (HRC) decided it was time to recognize individuals and groups for the work they are doing to improve human rights for all. Last fall the HRC asked the community to nominate unsung heroes.
In October, the Roseville city Council and the HRC honored community volunteer Valerie Swenson, Roseville High School English Language teacher Kelly Tennison, and the Roseville Area Middle School (RAMS) theater production team for the influence they have had on the community.
Valerie Swenson was nominated by Monica Gallagher. Swenson is a healthcare professional, mother, and activist, who has worked to empower the disenfranchised. She has tirelessly advocated for healthcare access for all, anti-hunger efforts, bullying prevention, and justice for domestic violence survivors.
Since the 1990s, Swenson has volunteered for church groups and task forces. She’s helped educate the public about domestic violence prevention and has helped schools prevent bullying and impart relational skills such as empathy, advocacy, and kindness by sharing her family's story illustrating the impact of bullying.
Former Human Rights Commissioner Mary Bachhuber nominated the RAMS Production Team, including Linsey Owen and Tom Krueger, for building an after-school learning environment for all kids. They have created a safe space for any student to participate. They have established an environment in which all kids can succeed together. They are building a community and helping students learn how to make others feel included and valued.
All students who audition are given a role in a production. Last spring that meant 96 students helped put on the play. RAMS provides opportunities for actors who are new to the stage and sometimes new to the English language. They include and accommodate kids with physical, emotional and behavioral special needs.
RAMS Theatre takes kids beyond the point where they’re sympathetic to their drama peers. Students develop relationships and understanding at a level that enables empathy.
Jenny Loeck, Principal at Roseville Area High School (RAHS), nominated Kelly Tennison. Tennison is an English Language teacher-leader at RAHS. Loeck described Tennison as a dedicated, organized, creative and student-centered teacher who is a tireless advocate for her students.
Tennison’s energy and leadership led to the creation of the RAHS Multicultural Leaders Group. This group was composed of groups of male students of color who were experiencing conflict at RAHS. Tennison developed a curriculum and relationship-building activities that ultimately eliminated the conflict, increased instructional time, and increased student safety and achievement.
Additional information about the HRC award and nomination process is available at www.cityofroseville.com/hrc or call 651-792-7023.