Parent Leadership Award Winners 2020

Ashley Millbridge Crocker

Family in wedding clothing standing in a garden

From left: Mark K. Crocker, Mark A. Crocker, Ashley Milbridge Crocker, Bailey Brown, Sierra Crocker, Zachary DuCharme, Faith Milbridge, Maya Johnson

Ashley has been a member of the Napa community and the "Cope Family" since 2016 and is currently enrolled in the Parents As Teachers® Home Visiting Program. She has been an active and engaged parent in Home Visiting since she was pregnant with her youngest child, Faith. She effectively co-parents with the fathers of her two older children, Zach and Maya. Today, Ashley's family has grown, she's earning a family-sustaining wage, enjoys a stable relationship with her partner, and has a strong recovery and relapse plan - but it wasn't always this way.

When Ashley first became involved with Cope, she told her story of a troubled childhood and adolescence due to substance abuse by both of her parents, their eventual divorce, her days as a runaway teenager, and her own substance abuse which inevitably led to more chaos in her life. Through all the uncertainty, however, Ashley never lost sight of her strengths. She enjoys a successful career in sales and a strong faith. She is a loving parent and maintains a positive outlook. Ashley has committed to sharing these strengths to improve circumstances for other individuals and groups she cares about.

She partnered with a local Alcohol & Drug Services therapist to organize a Narcotics Anonymous recovery group for women with children. As her due date with Faith was approaching, she identified a need for women in recovery to be able to take children to support group meetings. She worked with a local provider and approached Cope to provide space for the group to meet - a space in which moms and children would feel comfortable. For about a year, Ashley arrived every Wednesday morning to lead a meeting for women who chose to come. Recently, she shared with her Cope home visitor that she has agreed to sponsor another woman in recovery.

This past year, Ashley participated in the interview process to lend a "parent voice" to Cope's recruitment and hiring procedures when a vacancy for a home visitor needed to be filled. She showed up for the interview sessions in such a beautiful way, sharing her skills as a professional, while at the same time asking courageous questions of the candidate. Her input was invaluable in choosing the right person to fill the position. Ashley agreed to participate as a parent representative to the Parents As Teachers Community Advisory Board. At the first meeting she attended, Ashley met professional providers including a psychologist, early intervention manager, licensed therapists and others. Again, Ashley shared her story showing great compassion for other families. She continues to add valuable insight to the discussions about our program’s ability to provide quality family supports with high levels of integrity. She is an exceptional communicator and a clear voice for families. She is open to learning and strives consistently to grow a strong family so that her children will thrive.

Norma Nichols

Photo of Norma Nichols

In 2014, Norma’s daughter, Ella started school. As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, she knew that building a partnership with the school would greatly benefit Ella’s academic success. During the 2014-2015 school year, Norma began attending the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Meetings and Parent Education Seminars hosted by the San Benito County Office of Education. She also serves as the parent representative for Spring Grove School. Norma rarely misses a meeting and presents a welcoming manner to parents, community members, and educators. She offers unique insight to school and community issues while offering positive solutions. After a couple of years, Norma was asked to be the President of the CAC. She is now in her fourth year and has been recognized by the SBCOE Superintendents for her contributions.

As the President, Norma continues to be positive and to use her position to reach out to parents of students with disabilities to support them in their own journeys. She works with the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) to develop meeting agendas and events. She helps plan and attend the Parent Education Seminars offered by the CAC and even serves as the Spanish interpreter when needed. SELPA Program Specialist, Jennifer Henig said, “I have just begun working with Norma on CAC this school year, but Norma is so warm and ingratiating and has been so helpful in my first year working with CAC that it feels like I have known her for years. She truly cares about all students and has been so helpful with parents and making them feel welcome. She assists with thoughts on parent education seminars and meetings and although she has a full-time job (as a college counselor) and her own children, is always willing to assist in whatever way she can. I have truly enjoyed my time working with Norma and look forward to all that we will be able to accomplish together!”

Norma has spoken at Spring Grove School Back to School Nights to reach out to other parents who might need information or support, and informs the School Board about CAC events. Norma has encouraged the school to give other parents her phone number so she can answer questions that only another parent can answer. Her support to the school and the parents in the community cannot be measured. Norma strives to meet the needs of her children as well as those of the community. She helps us to achieve positive outcomes at school and encourages other parents to do the same. Norma is connected to the community, engages in meaningful two-way communication with families, school, and the CAC. She speaks her truth and offers solutions. Norma works to open opportunities for learning for all members of the community. She is a model for Parent Leadership and her work has opened the doors for other students with disabilities in the community to experience inclusion at the school close to their homes.

Ella is now in the fifth grade and Norma and her husband and as dedicated as ever to working as a team with the school to support their daughter’s education. She is thriving at Spring Grove because her mother had the courage to advocate for her in a loving and supporting way. Ella's brother attends the school as a seventh grader, as well, and is growing up to be another driving force in their community.