Nominations Open for Heart of Education Awards

Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

Now is your chance to honor an outstanding teacher.

The Smith Center will accept nominations now through January 31, 2017 for the second-annual Heart of Education Awards, recognizing CCSD educators who go above and beyond.

Students, PTA members, colleagues and anyone else familiar with a great teacher’s work can nominate CCSD educators at: www.TheHeartofEducation.org. Teachers will receive email notifications to submit a separate application after being nominated.

Teachers can’t be nominated by their relatives.

“There are so many teachers working tirelessly in our school district, and the Heart of Education program helps us honor the impact they have,” says Myron Martin, CEO and president of The Smith Center. “We enjoyed receiving the heartwarming stories of educators nominated in 2015, and we look forward to seeing many more this year.”

The overall aim of the awards: to help improve local teacher retention and recruitment.

Pat Skorkowsky, superintendent of Clark County School District, believes the awards will have an impact by improving the public perception of CCSD and showing teachers that the community appreciates and supports their hard work.

“This event has put teaching on a whole new level,” he says.

Ensuring a quality teacher in every classroom remains one of CCSD’s greatest challenges, Skorkowsky says.

“We have to go out not only locally but across the United States to recruit our teachers,” he says. “Then one of the challenges becomes once you get them here, how do you keep them here?”

This issue of teacher recruitment and retention in Southern Nevada stems from many factors, including demand outpacing the number of new teachers graduating each year from local colleges and universities.

CCSD has adopted a variety of efforts to combat the problem, such as a widespread public relations campaign and offering incentives to attract teachers to at-risk schools.

“We strive to make sure we have the best quality teachers with our students,” Skorkowsky says. “And then we want our great teachers to stay, feeling valued and rewarded for the important work they do in the classroom.”

Community members can help with this effort by nominating local teachers for the Heart of Education Awards, now entering its second year thanks to the generous sponsorship of The Rogers Foundation.

The inaugural event for the Heart of Education Awards in May 2016 saw tremendous community support, with more than 1,000 local educators nominated.

The top winners each received $5,000 at a special awards ceremony at The Smith Center, with $1,000 also given to each winner’s school to benefit a program of their choice.

Skorkowsky sees teachers exceeding their job requirements every time he visits a local school.

“We have teachers who buy their own supplies, who give up time before and after school to help meet student needs and run clubs and activities,” he says. “We have teachers who make home visits to ensure families are aware of what’s going on with their child’s education.”

Based on teachers’ responses at the 2016 awards gala, he adds, they appreciate their efforts being acknowledged.

“There were so many teachers who came up to me who were overjoyed to have the opportunity to be recognized for the hard work they do,” he says. “The feeling at that event was one of sheer joy.”

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