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Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching Presented in Wilmington

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On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, following a Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge at St. Mary Church in Wilmington, Mr. Jack Viorel, a first grade teacher at St. Mary Catholic School, was presented with the 2010-2011 Monsignor Gerald Lawrence Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching.  Monsignor Lewis concelebrated the Mass and delivered the homily.

In his homily, addressing St. Mary teachers, students and their parents in attendance, as well as Mr. Viorel and his family, Msgr. Lewis spoke about the qualities of a teacher. “The most important thing a teacher does,” he said, “is to lead us to the truth: the truth of God, the truth of nature and the truth of living together with each other in peace. Jesus was such a Teacher.” Monsignor Lewis emphasized the award was not only the recognition of an individual but of the excellence of all Catholic schools in the Diocese and the dedication of their teachers.

This year’s recipient is the first male teacher to win the Lewis Award. He came to North Carolina from San Mateo, California, and has been teaching first grade at St. Mary for four years. In addition to his work in the classroom, 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, to experience the enjoyment of participating in activities not readily open to them.  

Following Mass, Mrs. Ann Stahel, who instituted the Lewis Excellence in Teaching Award 19 years ago, praised the creativity and teacher-student connection she and other Lewis committee members had observed in Mr. Viorel’s classroom. Mr. Viorel himself then expressed his gratitude for the award and spoke of the many reasons he loves St. Mary School, concluding, “St. Mary’s has been like a family to me.”

Bishop Burbidge, Monsignor Lewis and Mrs. Stahel then presented Mr. Viorel with an engraved silver tray, a plaque and a monetary award, a portion of which he donated to St. Mary School. A plaque and check were also presented to the school. Dr. Michael J. Fedewa, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Formation and Education, made the presentation on behalf of the Lewis Award to Mrs. Joyce Price, Principal of St. Mary School.

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.

Above: Mr. Jack Viorel is presented the Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching by Mrs. Anne Stahel, Msgr. Gerald L. Lewis and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.