Educator Martinrex Kedziora honored for contributions to African-American community
Martinrex Kedziora, Ed.D., the Moreno Valley Unified School District superintendent and Brandman cohort mentor/adjunct faculty, has received plenty of awards for mentoring and more. But his latest award, from the African-American Coalition of Riverside may be his favorite and perhaps most unexpected.
He’s the first Caucasian to earn Outstanding African-American Educator honors from the group.
A regular attendee at the coalition’s events, Kedziora said, “I try to support and learn as much as I can about how we can serve our African-American community. I’ve gone to their events because the district always had people recognized. When I got it (notification) in the mail, I was very touched.”
Regina Castellano, his executive assistant, didn’t doubt he deserved it but still wondered enough to make inquiries. “We want you to know he’s the first that we’re giving this to. We want you to know how much we value what he does for our community,” she was told.
“It’s very emotionally touching,” Kedziora said, who was a child in the South when civil rights and school integration were making headlines.
Martin Luther King Jr. died when Kedziora was in third grade and he remembers being deeply affected. His teacher, who was black, helped him understand the larger tragedy inherent in King’s death. “She really inspired me,” said Kedziora, explaining his continuing efforts to treat everyone equally.
That early inspiration, and that of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” help inform how he approaches his role with students and the community alike. “I’m a humanitarian. I feel you need to involve everyone. People recognize that. I’m very humbled by it (the award).”
Kedziora said he always wanted to be a school principal and didn’t know you had to be a teacher first until he went to college. His motivation to become a principal was the social side of school, which was his strength. “I loved all the activities. I thought that’s what you did all the time in school. Class was just what happened in between.”
Despite a somewhat relaxed attitude toward academics, Kedziora did become a teacher and then a principal. “I never really thought about being a superintendent, but I really do enjoy what I do. I enjoy helping people. And I get a lot of opportunity to do that.”
He also helps educate others headed toward school administration, many of whom are in Brandman’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program or the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration. He’s made himself available to mentor and teach at a variety of Brandman campuses from Ontario to Riverside to Palm Desert.
It’s an extension of the kind of mentoring he likes to do within his school district. By showing an interest in his high school interns, he’s able to help them understand how they have a path from high school to college. He helps them identify goals and understand how their behavior has an impact on what they can accomplish.
“And it’s important to celebrate those accomplishments,” Kedziora said.
On Feb. 9, it’s his accomplishments that will earn a celebration. “Your outstanding commitment to education the minds of our youth and yours service to the community has made you one of the leading educators in the Inland Empire,” Denise Fleming, a Moreno Valley school board member and director of the African American Coalition for Riverside, Moreno Valley and Perris, wrote when informing him of his latest honor. “Your consistent demonstration of the supreme art of counseling, teaching, and directing others awakens joy, creative expression, and knowledge in students and community members alike.”
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