The San Francisco 49ers Foundation and its award-winning STEAM Education Program announced on Wednesday the inaugural winner of the Dr. Harry Edwards "Follow Your Bliss" Award as Veronica Miranda-Pinkney of San Jose Unified School District. The inaugural award, which was established to recognize full-time K-8 educators across the San Francisco Bay Area, will recognize Walter L. Bachrodt Elementary 5th grade bi-lingual teacher Miranda-Pinkney on Thursday, December 21st during a formal ceremony at Levi's® Stadium with family and colleagues. She will also receive $5,000 stipend for in-classroom materials and resources for the 2017-2018 academic year, and mentorship by Dr. Edwards along her fellow teachers.
The award's namesake stems from the first step in the Blueprint for Academic Achievement and Success written by Dr. Edwards, the nationally renowned sociologist, civil rights activist, educator, author, and 49ers team consultant. He opens his blueprint by calling for individuals to explore and consider paths that might lead not only to achieving a career interest but also to realizing your calling – the educational option and emphasis that for you lies at the confluence of talent, passion, productive potential, and opportunity.
"Veronica's commitment to her students, their families and communities, and her tireless advocacy for educational support and betterment at the state and national level make her the perfect inaugural recipient of the Follow Your Bliss award," said Dr. Edwards. "In modeling the success potential of teachers in our schools that serve diverse populations and communities, she provides inspiration and encouragement to her colleagues – both established teachers and those newly entering the profession. I'm honored to formally recognize Veronica for her work and contributions, and I look forward to working with her and the Walter L. Bachrodt Elementary staff."
"My family and the 49ers have been invested in enhancing student access to education for decades and, with her 20 years of dedication to improving the lives of children, Veronica is no different," said 49ers co-chair Denise DeBartolo York. "Her all-around contribution to the San Jose, state of California, and United States education systems underscore Dr. Edwards' definition of 'Follow Your Bliss' and aligns greatly with the 49ers mission of enriching the lives of children."
Miranda-Pinkney has been a bilingual educator for 20 years and has spent the last 10 at Bachrodt Academy in San Jose Unified, which teaches nearly 700 students from K-5. In addition to being a full-time educator, Miranda-Pinkney represents more than 325,000 California educators as chair of the California Teachers Association's State Language Acquisition Committee and is a national trainer and online curriculum developer for the National Education Association.
"To be recognized for the work that I love is truly an honor," said Follow Your Bliss recipient Veronica Miranda-Pinkney. "As teachers, we have the opportunity to impact the future of our youth, one child or family at a time. Not only am I able to motivate students in my own classroom, but blessed to be able to inspire other educators to be passionate advocates and a voice for others. I'm humbled and grateful for the recognition by the York family and Dr. Harry Edwards."
Since opening the 49ers STEAM Education Program in 2014, more than 150,000 participants – nearly 1,500 school visits – have experienced the 49ers field trip program, which teaches the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) through the lens of football. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the 49ers STEAM Education Program is pre-booked for the entire school year and will serve an additional 60,000 participants through nearly 650 school visits.