Diocese of Orlando Names “Distinguished Elementary School Teacher of the Year”

2014 School Award luncheon 052

From left to right: Superintendent of Catholic Schools Henry Fortier; Distinguished Elementary School Teacher of the Year winner, Barbara Havens; Sacred Heart Catholic School Principal, Leigh Svajko; Bishop John Noonan, Diocese of Orlando. Photo by Linda Caldwell, Diocese of Orlando.

Sacred Heart Catholic School teacher Barbara Havens was selected among teachers in 31 Catholic elementary schools throughout the nine counties of the Orlando Diocese and was given the honor of “Distinguished Elementary School Teacher of the Year”. She received the award at a luncheon yesterday held at the Tap Room at Dubsdread in Orlando. Presiding over the ceremony were Most Reverend Bishop John Noonan and Henry Fortier, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Havens was one of three finalists including Beth Hamby, teacher at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School, Indialantic and Carol Polkowski, teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School, Winter Haven.

The “Distinguished Elementary School Teacher of the Year” Award recognizes and honors Catholic school teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching, model best practices of 21st century teaching, and translate Catholic faith into action. Havens was chosen among the Catholic school system’s best for her qualifications, accomplishments, professional development, modeling her faith through Catholic identity, encouraging collaborative leadership, developing and maintaining curriculum, and dedication to educating the whole child.

 In the nomination of Havens, Leigh Svajko, Principal of Sacred Heart Catholic School stated, “Mrs. Havens believes that high expectations of her students are the key to success. She knows her students well and cares deeply for each one of them.  She takes every opportunity to bring our Catholic culture into the world. I am always encouraged by the extra time and commitment that Mrs. Havens shares with her students.  She is available when they need her most.”  Mrs. Havens encourages students to engage in acts of charity by leading them in service projects. Mrs. Haven’s said in her nomination, “For me, the essence of a Catholic education is love and respect for one another and self-sacrifice for the betterment of all mankind.”

Barbara Havens’ illustrious teaching career spans 40 years. From 2006-2014, she has served as the 5th grade teacher and social studies teacher for grades 6-8 at Sacred Heart Catholic School, New Smyrna Beach. During that time she also served as a middle school social studies teacher for two years at St. Paul Catholic School, Daytona Beach. Havens holds a B.A. in Education from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Education from Nova Southeastern University.

Principal Svajko stated of Barbara Havens’ award, “We are very blessed at Sacred Heart to have Mrs. Havens working with our student’s every day. Her enthusiasm and commitment to Catholic education is a beautiful demonstration of her faith.  She embraces the gospel values of our faith and imparts those values to our students by her words and her actions.  Mrs. Havens is well-deserving of this recognition.   She has spent her life educating young people, giving of herself in service to Catholic education and today we all had the chance to say, “thank you.”  

In addition to receiving the “Distinguished Elementary School Teacher of the Year” plaque, Barbara Havens received a prize of $1000 and tickets to an Orlando Magic game where she will be honored during an on court half-time ceremony. 

 Also during yesterday’s educator awards ceremony, other finalists and winners were honored.

 Bishop John Noonan Distinguished Administrator Award:

Finalists: Geraldine Gendall, Principal of St. James Cathedral School, Orlando and Kathleen Walsh, Principal of St. Margaret Mary Catholic School, Winter Park

 Winner: Dr. Kathleen Kiley, Principal of St. Andrew Catholic School, Orlando

 Distinguished High School Teacher Award

Finalists: Mary Byrnes, Melbourne Central Catholic High School, Melbourne and Leyzia Maisonave, Santa Fe Catholic High School, Lakeland

 Winner: Vince Balaguer, Bishop Moore Catholic High School, Orlando

 Diocese of Orlando Elizabeth Seton Award (for new teachers):

Finalists: Jena Love, St. Joseph Catholic School, Winter Haven and Amanda Sarasua, Father Lopez Catholic High School, Daytona Beach

Winner: Jennifer Jones, Resurrection Catholic School, Lakeland

 Photograph

From left to right: Superintendent of Catholic Schools Henry Fortier; Distinguished Elementary School Teacher of the Year winner, Barbara Havens; Sacred Heart Catholic School Principal, Leigh Svajko; Bishop John Noonan, Diocese of Orlando. Photo by Linda Caldwell, Diocese of Orlando.

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