Community of Caring is a K -12 character education and teen pregnancy prevention program that provides a whole school approach and includes all children, with a unique focus on children with disabilities. Founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1982, almost 1,000 schools in 38 states and in Canada have adopted the program.
Community of Caring is built around five core values that empower young people to be responsible and caring members of a community: Caring, Respect, Responsibility, Trust, and Family. 
            “Rowland Unified was chosen because they have modeled not only the ability to sustain the Community of Caring initiatives in their schools, but are committed to renewing the program across the District. They are exemplary in this award category,” said Penny Keith, professional development/grants coordinator for the National Center for Community of Caring.
            “We are so proud to receive this award,” said Rowland Unified Grant Coordinator Nancy Ballantyne. “The Community of Caring program has been and continues to be a vital part of our District. We started the program in 1996 and the core values and components have provided a contagious passion of caring that has positively infected every staff member and student in our District.”
            Highlights of the Community of Caring program in Rowland Unified include:
  • Two Rowland Unified teachers have been recognized as National Community of Caring Teachers of the Year: Ron D’Alessandro and Susie Burch. These dedicated teachers have implemented outstanding programs with high school students, including Best Buddies, Ambassadors and Peer Promoters. Teen forms are also held to allow students an opportunity to learn about current issues and to express their opinions.
  • Lead Teachers have been appointed at each of the 23 schools in Rowland Unified to plan and implement activities with a certified Teacher Trainer -- Rowland High School Teacher Susie Burch – who provides assistance to schools and lessons to teachers at quarterly meetings.
  • With new state funding through McKinney-Vento, an effort has been made to provide caring activities for homeless students through buddy systems, distributing clothing, school supplies and care kits to students.
  • Rowland Board of Education was so impressed with how service learning positively affected children; they instituted a graduation requirement for all high school students to conduct community service hours.
For more information about Community of Caring, visit
The Rowland Unified School District is proud to serve 17,500 students at 23 elementary and secondary schools in the communities of Rowland Heights, Walnut, La Puente, City of Industry, and West Covina. Permits allow students from other communities to attend our schools. More than 5,000 adults (16+) are also served by the Rowland Adult and Community Education School. For more information about Rowland Unified, call (626) 965-2541 or visit
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PHOTO CAPTION: Names from left to right: Rowland Unified Assistant Superintendent Dr. A.J. Santorufo, Superintendent Dr. Maria Ott, Susie Burch, Nancy Ballantyne and Dr. Zeff Dena at the National Community of Caring Awards Conference in Las Vegas July 26, 2007.