“All my life I’ve always been involved in communities that I’ve lived in.”
John Michael Acedo, Jr., Director of the Office of Community Engagement in the College of Education has found a career “home” doing what comes naturally to him…providing positive learning experiences for students and adults.
Beginning in August, 2008, John’s primary responsibilities include planning and directing COE’s Summer Enrichment Program and a Weekend Enrichment Program (during the academic year). But his connection with NAU has been much longer. John has been continuously involved with SEP since its beginning in 1999, while he was a NAU undergraduate student in music education (‘04), working as a teaching assistant, RA, and tech specialist for multiple sessions of the week-long, residential educational program. Even after graduation, he was the SEP Residence Hall Coordinator during his summer vacations from teaching 4th-8th grade general music and choir in the Alhambra Elementary District.
SEP is funded by a federal GEAR-UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant, which provides academic and social support to cohorts of middle/high school students from diverse populations, to be successful in secondary school and to prepare for college. Each summer, more than 500 kids from participating Arizona schools come to NAU’s campus to experience campus life and to explore contemporary real-world issues (e.g., water issues during droughts, near-earth objects and terrestrial collisions, Grand Canyon National Park management, sustainable living, space exploration).
Also under John’s guidance, COE pre-service teachers work with secondary students in their home communities to investigate alternative energy choices during the Weekend Enrichment Program, with funding provided by a grant from Science Foundation Arizona.
A native of Phoenix, John graduated from Central High School, and was in the first in his family to go to (and graduate from) college. “It was a huge thing in my family. I remember my grandfather, he was in tears, he never thought he’d see one of his grandkids graduate college.” At NAU, he is working to promote similar experiences for other Arizona students and their families.
John is also a “graduate” of the Metropolitan Phoenix Boys & Girls Club. “I pretty much lived there after school until 8:00 each night.” He was honored for his many volunteering activities while growing up as the 1998 runner-up in the National Youth of the Year award (yes…he met President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office) and the Arizona and Regional 1999 Volunteer of the Year, representing the Arizona Diamondbacks at the All Star game.
He serves on the board of the new Jemeille Ackourey Scholarship Foundation, providing mentorships and financial support for budding artists as young as elementary school. He is also an inaugural member of the Northern Arizona College Resource Center Advisory Board, housed in Flagstaff’s new YMCA, to assist students and parents with the information and paperwork required to go to college.
Married to his high school sweetheart Mariah, his “hobby” right now is watching his 10-month old daughter Amelia grow.
John believes that it takes a village to raise a child (or a successful college student). He is always looking for opportunities to get his “kids” involved with NAU clubs, organizations, and support services, so that they can “experience what it’s like to be on a college campus.” Feel free to contact him…and call him by his nickname – Tie Guy.
“I haven’t gone a day without wearing a tie since 1994. It started because I lost a bet in high school, and continued as I was elected class (and student body) president in high school.