Leadership Bios

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by Staff

wfaa.com

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 26 at 5:42 PM

 

Richard Marquez, President

Richard Marquez began what is now a well-rounded career in education in 1975 as a middle school teacher. Over the past thirty years, he has worked in every possible area of the education business. As a creative and innovative leader, he has initiated many changes that are now considered educational norms.

Mr. Marquez joined the Texans Can! team in March 2007.  From his experience generating funds, work in the Nations Capital, time as a school Superintendent, President of his own company and now President of Texans Can!, his multi-faceted background gives him a comprehensive view of the education system. 

Highlights

  • Established the first long-range grant of $32 million to study possible dropout prevention solutions while working for the US Department of Education.
  • Wrote and received a grant from the Mobile Oil Foundation to fund the first use of a social worker to work on dropout prevention.
  • Assisted in the graduation rate increase of 40% to 70% during his time as Principal of Sunset High School.
  • Work at Sunset High School recognized by national media and press including the Today Show, the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Cristina Show to name a few.

 

Executive Team

 
Richard Marquez, President & CEO
Yolanda Cruz, Vice President of Education
Lew Blackburn, Vice President Business Services

 

Dallas Can Board of Trustees

Texans Can Academies is governed by a group of dedicated and talented volunteers – our Board of Trustees. Each school also has a group of volunteers who serve as the school's Advisory Board. These community leaders lend their support and resources to help us in our mission to give kids a second chance to get an education.
 

Chairman of the Board
Mrs. Delia Jasso
  Mr. Michael T. Casey
Mr. Ruben C. DeLeon
Secretary of the Board
Mr. Monty R. Gamber
  Ms. Sanderia Smith
Assistant Secretary of the Board
Mr. Marvin Washington
  Mr. Rodolfo Rodriguez Jr.
Treasurer of the Board
Mrs. Theresa Acosta Lee
  Mr. Felix A. Zamora

 

Ft. Worth Can Board of Trustees

 

Chairman of the Board
Mrs. Delia Jasso
  Mr. Michael T. Casey
Mr. Ruben C. DeLeon
Secretary of the Board
Mr. Monty R. Gamber
  Ms. Sanderia Smith
Assistant Secretary of the Board
Mr. Marvin Washington
  Mr. Rodolfo Rodriguez Jr.
Treasurer of the Board
Mrs. Theresa Acosta Lee
  Mr. Felix A. Zamora

 

 

Dallas Can Principals
Melissa Groetsch, Principal
Dallas Can! Academy at Carrollton/Farmers Branch

Melissa M. Groetsch was born in a suburb of Chicago and was raised in Indiana. When she was sixteen, her parents decided to move to Central Minnesota where her father’s family has lived for over 150 years. After graduating from Albany High School, Melissa attended Mayville State University in North Dakota and majored in Elementary Education and Psychology. During her senior year, she was chosen to complete student teaching in McAllen, Texas.
After graduation in 1991, Ms. Groetsch accepted a position at Brown Middle School, McAllen, Texas as a Special Education teacher. Brown Middle School was considered one of the most challenging schools in the district due to gangs, drugs and poor academics. As part of a team, she helped transform the school, and she mentored and influenced many of the students to improve their lives and to see that education was the way to a better life. Ms. Groetsch took on several leadership roles at this campus including: team leader, special education department head, chair of the campus “Student Assistance Program”, and member of the campus and district site based decision making team. Brown Middle School was one of the first schools in the Rio Grande Valley that implemented Full Inclusion for the special education population. During her last year at Brown, she was voted Teacher of the Year.
In 2001, Ms. Groetsch transferred to Rowe High School where she was a teacher for the Campus Alternative Education program. During this time period, she attended University of Pan American to pursue her Masters in Educational Leadership. After earning her Master’s in 2004, Ms. Groetsch accepted a position at La Joya ISD as a High School Assistant Principal. La Joya High School is one of the largest high schools in the Rio Grande Valley with an average population of 2,400 students. During her time there, she took pride in helping homeless, at-risk, and special population students graduate from high school and attend post secondary institutions.
Melissa enjoys spending time doing volunteer work, reading, baking, and spending time with her close friends, former students, and her dog, Milo.

Mene Khepera, Principal
Dallas Can! Academy at Pleasant Grove

Mene Ra Khepera is a man deeply committed to his purpose and passion, of helping others, especially children, discover their power and greatness.

Mene Khepera, formerly Irving Atkins, was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He attended elementary and high school in Texarkana, Texas. After graduating from high school in 1983, Mene received a full four-year scholarship to Memphis State University where he later earned a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and communications. Shortly after earning his Bachelor’s Degree, Mene began working on his Master’s in education.

In 1989, Mene moved to Dallas and launched his professional career as a family and youth counselor for Mental Health and Retardation (MHMR). Mene’s eleven years at MHMR was the foundation for preparing him for the experiences and challenges he would encounter in the field of education.

Shortly after leaving MHMR, Mene secured a position with Community Education Partner (CEP). His first year at CEP, Mene served as a Behavioral Specialist. Having experienced a great deal of success in this position, Mene was promoted to administration, where he served as an assistant principal over student discipline.

In this position, Mene once again proved himself as a man deeply committed to the success of students. As a result, Mene was asked by upper-level management to join the National Expansion Leadership Team to open a new school in Atlanta. Mene accepted and became one of a six-member team to open a new alternative school in Atlanta. After the school opened, Mene became one of the administrators for the school.

In 2004, Mene became the first principal of a Texans Can! at Dallas South. After six years, Mene still serves as the principal. Over his seventeen year career as a counselor and educator, Mene has impacted thousands of lives by empowering youth and families through education.

Mene has been married for almost fifteen years to Nia Khepera and they are the proud parents of two sons.

Faustino Rivas, Principal
Dallas Can! Academy Oak Cliff

Faustino was born and raised in Los Fresnos, semi rural community in South Texas close to Brownsville. He is the oldest of ten children, a former migrant worker, and the first to go to college. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree with a social studies background and a Master’s degree with mid-management certification. Faustino started his career in education (teacher/coach) in 1972. He spent 16 years in the classroom as a master teacher before becoming an administrator. In his 16 year tenure as a Principal, he was involved with improving student achievement dramatically. He inherited five low performing schools and improved the rating in each of the schools from low performing to “Recognized” and “Exemplary.” In 2002 Faustino retired for a year but returned to education as a high school social studies teacher from 2003-2004. As a teacher, he improved student performance on the TAKS test (90% of his students passed the exam). In 2005 he became the principal at L. V. Stockard Middle School, (Dallas ISD) a low performing school. In 2010 the campus received a “Recognized” rating by the Texas Education Agency. In the summer of 2010 Faustino became the principal at Dallas Can!, Oak Cliff campus. He and his wife, Dora, of 37 years and have three children, a son, Faustino H. and two daughters, Diana and Vanessa. They also have two grandchildren, Jolie Marie, three years old and Ivan, who is five months. Next to his family and work (he loves to teach!), his passion is golf, weight lifting and reading articles/books about teaching and learning. He is extremely excited about joining the Dallas Can! Oak Cliff family and looking forward to a great year!

 

 

Ft. Worth Can Principals

 

Tony Swafford, Principal
Fort Worth Can! Academy River Oaks

Tony Swafford is a native of Ponder, Texas, graduating from Ponder High School in 1971. He holds a BS in Physical Education and Biology (1974) and an M.Ed. in Public School Administration (1980) from the University of North Texas. Swafford has held many positions in Texas public schools, from custodian, maintenance, bus driver, teacher, coach, assistant principal, middle school and high school principal, director, executive director and assistant superintendent. He retired from Denton ISD in 2005 to pursue consulting opportunities, travelling across the country assisting with workshops for teachers and administrators with Dr. Ruby Payne’s Aha! Process, Inc. He has also been a teacher and administrator mentor with the I Teach Texas alternative certification program and presented SAT Prep Seminars for Test Prep Seminars of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Mr. Swafford has been with Texans Can! Since October, 2008, serving as Assistant Principal for School Improvement at Fort Worth Can! Academy – Campus Drive. With his assistance, Campus Drive met the Adequate Yearly Progress indicators of the No Child Left Behind act for the second consecutive year and will move out of the School Improvement Program in the 2009-10 school year. He was appointed principal at River Oaks on June 15, 2009.

Swafford and his lovely wife, Charla have been married 34 years and have two grown children, Shelly, a middle school choir director, and Jay, a high school teacher and coach. They both enjoy spending quality time with family, especially 5 year old granddaughter Mackenzie.

Mr. Swafford is deeply committed to the students of Fort Worth Can! Academy and their success in pursuing their high school diploma and improving their lives. He views his responsibilities this way; “I look forward to the challenge of increasing enrollment, retention, and graduation rates by providing the students of Fort Worth Can! Academy at River Oaks with an inviting, welcoming and safe environment where every student feels at home and is successful.”

Ku-Masi Lewis, Principal
Fort Worth Can! Academy Campus Drive

Ku-Masi Lewis has lived in Fort Worth, Texas since the age of 11. Mrs. Lewis is a high school graduate from Oscar Dean Wyatt High school which is located directly across the street from Fort Worth Can! Academy. She earned her BS in Psychology from Texas Wesleyan University in 1999 and attained her Masters in Educational Administration from Prairie View A&M University in May 2009.

Mrs. Lewis has been a faithful servant of the Fort Worth Can! Academy Campus Drive since she was first awarded a teaching position in the special education department in 2002. She became the Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction in 2005, and recently was appointed the head principal's position in April of 2009. She has been happily married to her husband Richard for 10 years and is the proud of mother of 3 children (Ashley, Kaleb, and Jordan).

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