The District’s Distinguished Lasallian Educators were awarded at the Huether Lasallian Conference, on Nov. 23, 2019. (center 3, l to r: Dr. Rhonda Hazell, Ms. Carol Soltys, and Mr. Skip Gaus, AFSC, pictured here with District Office leadership, and Superior General Br. Robert Schieler, FSC.)
The District of Eastern North America is proud to present the 2019 Distinguished Lasallian Educators
Each year The Brothers of the Christian Schools of the Lasallian Region of North America 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 Minneapolis, MN, with the focus on the theme “Living the Lasallian Mission: Celebrating with Zeal,” these three educators were honored for their dedication to the Lasallian family.
Mr. Charles “Skip” Gaus, AFSC
Director (Retired July 2019)
De La Salle Vocational – Bensalem, PA
Charles “Skip” Gaus retired in July from a distinguished service career to adjudicated/delinquent youth in the Philadelphia area. Skip came to De La Salle Vocational in 1977, to begin a 42-year career in Lasallian ministry in the Saint Gabriel’s System. Spending 30 of those years as Director of De La Salle in Towne then at De La Salle Vocational, he has always provided the youth entrusted to his care with the highest quality care and services. His leadership resulted in touching the hearts of countless young men whose lives were on a highly dangerous trajectory. His passion and zeal helped ensure that these troubled youth, “abandoned to themselves,” would have productive and successful family lives and careers.
De La Salle Vocational founding Director, Br. Gilbert Henderson commented about Skip, “I had found someone who believed as I believed about what was needed to help these kids survive in the world. What I did not realize initially was his amazing administrative and management skills.” This deep-rooted vocational calling, led Skip to a focused career of service to youth “far from salvation.” His efforts helped create intentional, relational communities in which young men could have second chances and thrive. For 42 years, no one within the Saint Gabriel’s System lived the Lasallian story more often and more completely or more enthusiastically than Skip. However, his journey was not limited to just the work in the Saint Gabriel’s System. His numerous contributions to the greater Lasallian world, resulted in his appointment as a Lay consultant to the 43rd General Chapter followed by serving as a delegate to the first International Mission Assembly in 2006. In recent years he has served on the RELAN Lasallian Education Council. In 2000, already recognizing his contributions and deep passion for the Lasallian mission, Skip was affiliated to the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
Dr. Rhonda Hazell
Assistant Professor of Biology
La Salle University – Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Rhonda Hazell is now serving in her 18th year as a Lasallian educator, the last seven as an Assistant Professor of Biology. Dr. Hazell exemplifies Lasallian values and is an outstanding role model for students and faculty. While seen as a “tough” teacher who demands the best from her students while never compromising her standards, she also provides compassionate assistance, a guiding presence, and believes fully in the ability of each of her students to succeed. Beyond the classroom, she stands in solidarity with children and adults who are dispossessed, disadvantaged, and disinherited by society.
Dr. Hazell’s commitment to academic excellence, passion for those impoverished in different ways, and strong relationships with students and faculty, reveals daily her spirit of zeal for our Lasallian Mission. Of particular note is her on-going work in Haiti, particularly at the Lasallian health and wellness center in Port-au-Prince. Combined with her numerous solo trips, she has made a significant difference in many lives. Additionally, she invites and coordinates students and colleagues in serving at the Loaves-and-Fishes Community at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Trenton or the food kitchen on Philadelphia’s Spring Garden Street in. In her nomination by La Salle university, three of the Twelve Virtues were highlighted—gravity, patience, and zeal. A few comments from her colleagues underscores these virtues:
- [She] employs a teaching style that can be characterized as ‘tough love,’ effectively preparing [her] students for the challenges that lie ahead. Many students cite [her] classes as some of the best preparations they’ve had for their future careers.
- I witnessed her worrying and lamenting over some of [her] students. [She] promotes the best outcomes for them, …
- I see how [she] teaches [her] students,” says a colleague, “through a spiritual lens.” Echoes another colleague: [she] offers “a guiding presence…filled with generosity of spirit.”
Ms. Carol Soltys
Dean of AcademicsSan Miguel School of Providence, Providence, RI
Carol Soltys is now in her 9th year as Dean of Academics at the San Miguel School of Providence. Carol exemplifies Lasallian values and is an outstanding role model for students, faculty, and the entire community. Serving in a Miguel school, she accepts her students for who they are regardless of their socioeconomic, ethnic/racial, or religious backgrounds. Her vision of the young opens Carol to look for their unspoken dreams and the potential for growth of the whole person. Everything she does is for the students and bringing them closer to God. She is a “guardian angel” to all of the young men.
“Living the Lasallian Mission: Celebrating with Zeal,” is wonderfully reflected in the life and work of Carol Soltys. Her commitment to academic excellence, passion for those impoverished in different ways, and strong relationships with students and faculty, reveals daily her spirit of zeal for our Lasallian Mission. She has had incredible impact on the lives of so many students and adults, and so we listen to a few of their words:
- She embodies the spirit of La Salle in her seeking to know well each of the children in our care and to meet them each “on their level.”
- She has high expectations and mixes encouragement and the “firmness of a father” in with her deeply loving mannerisms.
- Her commitment to excellence in serving…is a resounding echo of La Salle’s admonition that we [Lasallian educators] “treat our students as if they were the sons of kings.”
- Her entire being…her heart and soul, embody the eternal spirit of…De La Salle which she willingly shares with the students entrusted to her care.
- Her commitment to service, inclusiveness and community speaks to this Lasallian work being her vocation as well as part of her identity.
To learn more about all of the Distinguished Lasallian Educators from around the Region, and for more photos and news from the Huether Lasallian Conference, visit the Region’s website >
Congratulations to all of the nominees for Distinguished Lasallian Educators Award throughout DENA!
Mr. Rich Brown
Calvert Hall College High School, Towson, MD
Mr. William Frake
Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, NJ
Ms. Susan Major
Christian Brothers Academy, Syracuse, NY
Mr. Anthony Resch
La Salle College High School, Wyndmoor, PA
Dr. Rani Roy
Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY
Mr. Orlando Santiago
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Brooklyn, NY
Mr. Brendan Shea
St. John’s College High School, Washington, DC