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Parent-involvement coordinator named
WSFCS Classified Employee of the Year
BY KIM UNDERWOOD ? I?
WINSTON-SALEM/FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS I
Javier Coirea-Vega is passionate about doing every- I
thing he can to help students and parents. If he can help U
someone, he does so without regard to whether it's u
included in his job description. He never passes anyone I
without speaking, and he always has a smile on his face. I
Those are just some of the complimentary things that I
people had to say about the Winston-Salem/Forsyth I
County Schools' 2015 Classified Employee of the Year. I
Correa-Vega is the parent-involvement coordinator at I
Philo-Hill Magnet Academy. Superintendent Beverly
Emory and others surprised him one morning with the
Correa-Vega has been in school news in recent
months because he is one of the people working on cre
ating a parent-involvement bus that will go out into the
community to serve families throughout the school sys
As important as that project is, said Ken Leak, the
chair of the school system's Classified Advisory
Council, it was the day-to-day work that Correa-Vega
does helping students and their families that convinced
those on the selection committee to pick him. "The com
mittee saw him as a genuine, good person - a big guy Ji
with a heart of gold." d>
When presented with the award, Correa-Vega said g
that the recognition belongs not just to him but to all the
staff and students in the building. "It's a great school -
good people," he said later in the morning.
"He embodies a culture of service," said Kenyatta
Bennett, the principal at Philo-Hill. "He is proof of that
every day. He hit the ground like a ball of fire and he has
been running ever since."
At one time, Correa-Vega was a police officer, and
Emory said that she was impressed by his desire to trade
in handcuffs for hands to hold when reading his nomina
"We're proud of you and what you do for your kids,"
Emory told Correa-Vega.
Correa-Vega is married to Ana Ortiz, who also works
for the school system. She is a bilingual community coor
dinator and the assistant district coordinator for the Toyota
Family Literacy Program. Both Ortiz and their daughter,
Daly mar Correa-Ortiz, were on hand.
Correa-Vega and Ortiz are from Puerto Rico, where he
was police officer working with people under house arrest.
After they moved to Winston-Salem, he worked for two
vears as a detention officer
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools photc
ivier Correa-Vega basks in the spotlight with his family ? wife Ana Ortiz and theii
aughter, Dalymar Correa-Ortiz; Superintendent Beverly Emory; and Kenyattc
ennett.the principal at Philo-Hill.
for the school system nine years ago as a teacher assistant
in the ESL (English as a Second Language) Academy at
John F. Kennedy Middle School (now high school).
He later becamfc the home/school coordinator at Hill
Middle School and was there until it merged with Philo to
become Philo-Hill Magnet Academy.
Correa-Vega and Ortiz have now been married for 14
years, and Dalymar, who is a seventh-grader, admires her
father's courage for helping others.
Correa-Vega drives a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle that he
restored and painted Carolina blue. He has pictures on his
phone that he can show you if you ask.
The parent-involvement bus project is a partnership
with Konnoak Elementary School, which is nearby. Many
Konnoak students go on to Philo-Hill. Shelia Burnette,
who is the principal at Konnoak, was among those at
Philo-Hill this morning for the celebration.
"Javier is a leader for children and for adults,"
Burnette said. He takes every opportunity he sees to rec
ognize the work of others and to support people, she said,
"and the children see that."
Correa-Vega has been
invited to a national confer
ence being held later this
month to talk about the par
ent-involvement bus project.
So, as it happened, he had
the materials that he pre
pared for that, and he did a
quick presentation for the
guests at the celebration.
at the reception spoke highly
"He always keeps a posi
tive attitude," said Howard
May, the day porter at Philo
"You never see Javier
without a smile," said Jo
Collins, the lead counselor.
John Fulton, who teaches
eighth-grade social studies,
praised his willingness to
? serve. If you need a transla
' tor or someone to help with a
i home visit, all you have to
do is send an email and he
gets back quickly with an
offer to help and, when you
see him in person, a smile on his face. "People like that are
few and far between," Fulton said.
"He is a people person," said Kara Brooks, the curricu
lum coordinator. "He goes beyond the call of duty to help
Committee members who got to know Correa-Vega a
bit during the selection process also spoke highly of him.
To work with children, said Mary Shackleford, a
teacher assistant at Walkertown Elementary, you have to
love what you do. And he clearly does, she said. "He has
the heart for it."
Paul Luper, who is a carpenter with the school system,
said that, after learning all that Correa-Vega does for chil
dren and parents, he was thoroughly impressed. "He sold
Correa-Vega said that his philosophy is simple: He
wants to do what he can to help young people become suc
cessful. "It's all about kids," he said.
with the Forsyth County
Correa-Vega was one of
four finalists for the recogni
tion. The other three were
Pam Buie, an administrative
assistant at Parkland High
School; Shareka Brown, the
testing coordinator and first- >
and second-grade assistant at .
Petree Elementary School; j
and Tesha Green, a primary [S
reading teacher and office [||
assistant at Sedge Garden |1
When Correa-Vega was I
announced as one of finalists I
in February, Stacie I
Persinger, who teaches the- I
atre arts at Philo-Hill, was so I
excited that she sent out an I
email far and wide. With ?
Correa-Vega, she said, you I
never hear him say, "I can't." I
You mention that you I
need something such as I
translating into Spanish a I
permission slip for a field I
trip and "It's done. He's I
Correa-Vega and Ortiz I
met in Puerto Rico. Both I
happened to be attending a I
party given by mutual I
friends. Ortiz had been hav- I
ing trouble with a supervisor I
at work, and, to her, Correa- I
Vega was just a guy sitting I
on the couch when she began I
talking to a friend about it. R
When Ortiz got to the point H
in the story when she sug- I
gested that the problem I
might be that her supervisor, I
who was quite tall, wasn't I
getting enough oxygen to her I
brain at those heights, I
Correa-Vega, who is 6 feet, 5 I
inches tall, stood up.
"I don't think so," he I
"I looked at him," Ortiz
said, "and he smiled. And he
said it would be nice if we
went out to eat one day."
What could she say but
At dinner, they hit it off.
"He has a big heart and he is
such a caring and humble
person," Oritiz said. "He is a
very hard worker. I am so
proud of him."
Five months after they
were married, they moved to
Winston-Salem, where one
of Correa-Vega's sisters was
already living. She had told
them it was a good place to
They didn't speak
English at the time, and, as
they learned it, they worked
such jobs as making ciga
rettes for Reynolds Tobacco
Co. and the metal boxes con
taining telephone equipment
that you see here and there.
After working for the
Correa-Vega came to work
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