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March 29, 2009

School teachers, staff members honored as ‘Heart of the Schools’

Sixteen teachers and support staff members were named by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools as 2009 Heart of the School award winners.

The winners were chosen from a potential pool of more than 5,200 educators from 258 Catholic schools in Cook and Lake counties. They were recognized at a March 20 gathering.

Winners in the eight categories were:

The Arts, for outstanding contributions that instill a love of the arts among students: Laura Wsol of Fenwick High School in Oak Park, a music teacher who over six years turned a fledgling band into a well-balanced and well-organized program.

Nicole Lapwing, music director at Queen of Peace High School in Burbank, “puts her entire self into being a great educator and challenges herself to be a better musician,” according to her nomination.

Behind the Scenes, for nonadministrative staffers who contribute to unique program successes: Catherine Flowers, library media specialist at Ascension School in Oak Park, who restructured Ascension’s library program.

Deborah Serafini-Smith of St. Cornelius School, who helped turn the Extended Day program into a “second home” for children.

Catholic School Identity and Mission for displaying best practices in religious education while modeling a commitment to the promotion of peace and justice: Laura Selin, of St. Benedict in Blue Island, helps to express the fun in learning with stories and jokes.

Clare Hurrelbrink, of Francis Xavier Warde School-Old St. Pat’s, feels by working at a Catholic school she is traveling on an exciting journey with the children.

Early Childhood, for an exceptional preschool or kindergarten teacher: Bridget LaPietra, of St. Giles in Oak Park, is very focused on providing parents resources to help their children.

Lisa Agner a preschool teacher at St. Benedict in Blue Island, employs differentiated instruction, as well as backward design methodology through her integrated curriculum for her students.

Innovation and Creativity, for exhibiting best educational practices: Julie Wilkins of Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, incorporates the spiritual self in learning because it is as important as any subject.

Joan Baley, of St. Christina School, has taught for more than 30 years and is using technology in all her classes.

Leadership, for exhibiting exceptional dedication in the classroom, school and community: David Rosenzweig, of Notre Dame High School for Boys in Niles, was recognized for his involvement in the debate team, creating the course “Major Movements and Ideologies of the Modern World,” and directing the National Honor Society.

Emmett McGovern, of St. Patrick High School, has incorporated several new programs, such as Operation PROM, The Rockwell Project, I Am Dirt and 3-D Prevention.

Rising Star, for teachers of less than five years: John P. Titterton of Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein teaches six full classes, is head of the math club Mu Alpha Theta, and has pioneered the use of the tablet PCs by creating four full courses.

Aubrey Smith, of St. Francis of Rome School in Cicero, earned her master’s of education and social policy from Northwestern University in her first year of teaching.

Technology for making outstanding contributions to integrating technology in education: Ernesto Nieto of Fenwick High School in Oak Park has helped the faculty become more acclimated with technology.

Katie Shea, of Guerin College Prep in River Grove, is involved in the school’s laptop for all students program.