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School of Education gives “Friend of Education” award to local principal

Monday, June 08, 2015

LAWRENCE — John "J.D." Rios is the recipient of the 2015 Friend of Education Award. Rios was nominated for the award by members of the University of Kansas School of Education's faculty and administration for his distinguished record of professional leadership, service and support of education in Kansas.

The KU Friend of Education Award recognizes those who, regardless of educational background, have helped support and sustain elementary, secondary or post-secondary public education. The award is not restricted to a School of Education graduate.

Rios has been an educator in the Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) Public Schools since 1984, serving as a teacher, vice principal, principal and administrator. He will retire in November from his current position as talent acquisitions manager. He is also an alumnus of the district, graduating from Wyandotte High School in 1979. His involvement in the community and schools has been extensive.

Rios has served on numerous boards, including that of El Centro, where he was chairman for four years; the Kansas City, Kansas Community College Board of Trustees; the United Way Regional Board of Trustees; and Wyandotte County United Way, where he has been campaign chairman for three different years.

Rios has also been a member of the School of Education Professional Development Schools (PDS) committee, working with KU and KCK faculty to provide collaborative educator preparation for KU students.

Rios’ honors include the Spirit of Caring Award from the United Way of Wyandotte County in 2004 and 2010, the Cesar Chavez Community Service Award in 2002 and being named to the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll in 2006.

His nomination for the KU Friend of Education Award reads:

“J.D. Rios is indicative of one who has achieved significant success in the field of education, as well as one who personifies the highest standards of service, leadership and character. He has been in every respect a model for students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members. Throughout his career, Mr. Rios has consistently displayed qualities of initiative, conscientiousness and professionalism. Mr. Rios has been recognized as an educational leader who is committed to academic excellence for all students. He began his career as a teacher, displaying the competence and creativity that have marked his professional life. His enthusiasm, innovativeness, and genuine concern for the education of students in his community and state are exemplary.”

Rios suggests the following to ensure success for all involved in education:

“A student is the most important person in any school. A student is the purpose of our work. A student is not just a statistic. He or she is a flesh-and-blood human being with feelings and emotions like ourselves. A student is one who comes to us with needs and wants. It is our duty to fill them. A student is deserving of the most supportive and attentive service that we can provide. A student is the lifeblood of every school. Without him or her, we would have to close our school doors. The focus of the future should be on service and excellence.”

“Each year the school identifies an individual who has served the field of PK-12 and higher education. Given the level of service and commitment to his work and the many students that Rios has impacted, we are excited to honor him with this award,” said Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education.

The KU School of Education is a nationally ranked school serving educators to prepare them as leaders.    

10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
Assists public schools and other partners in all 105 Kansas counties
$938,377 in scholarship funds awarded to 420+ students
Research expenditures of $36,804,773 for 2011-12
Research from KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, assists educators, children, and families across the United States
The award-winning special education faculty published 140 refereed articles, 11 books, and 60 chapters in 2015-16
Students with intellectual disabilities are participating in KU undergraduate programs through a grant-funded KU special education program
Researchers on a $3.5 million grant are collecting data on an innovative reading program designed to teach reading to students with the most significant disabilities in seven Kansas school districts
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
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