The District of Eastern North America is proud to present the 2010 Distinguished Lasallian Educators
Each year, The Brothers of the Christian Schools of the US / Toronto Region recognize Lasallian Educators for their outstanding work and dedication to the charism of Saint La Salle, with the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award at the annual Huether Lasallian Conference. This year in Cincinnati, with the focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, these three Educators will be honored for their dedication to the Lasallian mission.
Over the past eight years, the boys of San Miguel Washington have consistently gained in their math scores. While typically entering sixth grade a grade level behind on standardized math tests, the boys leave for High School above grade level, and the one constant in the Math program at San Miguel has been Diana Aguilar. Diana can be considered a modern De La Salle; trained as an artist, but became a teacher. Diana has adapted best practices of others to assist the special needs of our boys, and shares freely the knowledge she has gained with colleagues, especially those who, like herself, had not expected to teach math. Diana’s love for San Miguel and the boys can be traced to her own experience. Growing up in El Salvador during that country’s civil war, she witnessed unspeakable horrors. For many years she was separated from her parents, who like many of our boys’ parents, left to find a better life in the United States. She arrived in the US at the age of nine and faced the struggles our boys deal with of learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture. She has brought to an otherwise masculine environment a warm maternal touch that has helped soften even the hardest of hearts.
Mike McNamara is a legend at La Salle Academy. The example and quality of his life commitment to Catholic and Lasallian education is both truly incredible and inspiring. He is an extraordinary teacher not only in the mastery of his subject matter but in the connection that he makes with his students on a daily basis. From his earliest days, Michael has approached his work as a ministry. He might not have been able to articulate it, but faith and zeal were alive in him from the start. Graduates frequently refer to him as the best teacher they ever had and speak of his positive influence as a role model in their lives. His sense of inner peace and understanding coupled with his willingness to go that extra mile with his students contributes greatly to their sense of deep admiration and respect for both the teacher and the man. A deeply committed Catholic gentleman, Michael lives and acts according to gospel values and imperatives, with the Lasallian philosophy and tradition motivating and animating his life choices and direction. It is evident that his “touching minds and hearts” goes beyond his exemplary math expertise, to the realm of changing lives.
If someone were to ask about the animation of the phrase “to touch the hearts and minds of pupils and to inspire them with the Christian Spirit is the greatest miracle you can perform,” Dan Rhoton is the walking, living, breathing miracle for Saint Gabriel’s Hall. Dan has been a force within the Saint Gabriel’s System and throughout the city of Philadelphia since graduating from La Salle University since 1998. Dan did his student teaching at St. Gabriel’s Hall and never left; with the exception of a year at Philadelphia Youth Network. He returned to the Hall in 2007 and assumed the math department chairmanship. Since then he has been finding ways to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math in the curriculum. In 2008, Dan was asked to become Vice Principal after an unsolicited groundswell from the faculty. His particular goal was to integrate career technical education within the existing S.T.E.M. approach to learning—mission accomplished. His affable, charitable ways in no way diminish the laser focus of his preparation and execution of work, with the boys producing outcomes nothing short of excellent. Rare is the case of a student that Dan cannot reach, assist and put at ease, ready to attain goals with a remarkable height of achievement. Dan’s zeal and passionate concern for the disadvantaged and marginalized students served at St. Gabriel’s Hall is what makes it all possible.
The full list of Distinguished Lasallian Educator nominees from around The District of Eastern North America >