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Winner of 2011 Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching Announced

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Mr. Jack Viorel, a 1st Grade teacher at St. Mary Catholic School in Wilmington, has been named the winner of the 2010-2011 Monsignor Gerald Lawrence Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching. The selection was made by the Lewis Award Committee.

Mr. Viorel came to North Carolina from San Mateo, California, where he was employed as a Master Teacher in an elementary school. He has been teaching 1st Grade at St. Mary for four years.

Mr. Viorel uses his passion for surfing and promoting environmental care of the oceans in a wide variety of community activities. Through his surf school business, he offers opportunities to individuals with disabilities such as HIV/AIDS, blindness, diabetes, wounded veterans, and autistic children, among others, to experience the enjoyment of participating in activities not readily open to them. Mr. Viorel’s surfing outreach was featured in the April 2010 issue of NC Catholics magazine.

“I feel blessed and honored to be a teacher at St Mary School,” Mr. Viorel said, “One thing that makes St Mary so great is that our focus is on teaching students to treat others with respect and kindness, and I think that translates into good students. Joyce (Price) our principal and Father Bob (Kus) both make St Mary an incredibly great place to teach.

“The school feels like family,” Mr. Viorel, whose daughter attends St. Mary, said. “Before I came here I was really wondering whether I should continue teaching, but the kids, my colleagues and all the people I met here rejuvenated me.”

Mr. Viorel was chosen from among three finalists nominated for the award in January by the Lewis Award Committee. The other finalists were Mrs. Mary Barber, 5th Grade, St. Egbert School, Morehead City, and Mr. Alan Johnston, 6-8th Grade Science, Our Lady of Lourdes School, Raleigh.

Mrs. Mary Barber has been in teaching 11 years, 6 of them in her current position at St. Egbert. She holds a Master of Education in Science Education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and serves as Co-Leader of the Girl Scouts of Coastal Carolina.

Mr. Alan Johnston is in his eighth year of teaching at Lourdes. He holds a Master of Secondary Education from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and serves in a number of positions at Lourdes and in the community.

The Monsignor Gerald Lawrence Lewis Award was initiated in 1992 to honor outstanding educators in the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Raleigh and to recognize, promote and encourage teaching excellence. The Excellence in Teaching Award honors superlative classroom teachers, grades K-12, who have illustrated strong commitment to their students, colleagues and schools and to their family, church and civic communities. The Award is presented on an annual basis and carries a monetary award to the Recipient and to the Recipient’s school.

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, will be the Presider at a Celebration Liturgy honoring the Recipient at St. Mary Church on April 13th.

Above: Mr. Jack Viorel, left, with St. Mary School Principal Ms. Joyce Price and St. Mary Pastor Fr. Robert Kus at school announcement of Msgr. Lewis Excellence in Teaching Award.