Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Teachers WIN National Liberty Museum Teacher as Hero Awards

The National Liberty Museum (NLM) announced the eleven winners of the 16th annual Teacher as Hero Award, sponsored by State Farm. Three of the 11 are Florida teachers.

The Teacher as Hero Awards recognizes outstanding educators who represent best practices in teaching and serve as role models to their colleagues and students. Their achievements and inspiring stories will be shared with the tens of thousands of visitors who come to the Museum from across the region and from all over the world.

Each of the honorees and winning teachers were chosen from among 30 national applications from eight states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, New Mexico, and California. Fellow educators, school administrators, students and community members nominated the teachers and shared stories of how they each made a positive impact in the community. 


2022 Florida Teacher as Hero Award Recipients:

Is a 6-8th grade Computer Science teacher at James S. Rickards Middle School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. After having 90 of her students take and pass Digital Learning Certification her first year at Rickards, she became the Robotics coach for her school’s “Girls Who Can Code” club geared to developing social, emotional, and technology skills in female students, who won two competitions this year. She has proven to be dedicated and does not take credit for many of the great things she and her students are doing in her classroom. State Farm agent Vic Gulaty presented the award. State Farm agent Vic Gulaty presented the award.

Horticulture Teacher at McArthur High School in Hollywood, FL.-  Vincent got a 500-square-foot 12 feet high greenhouse built at his school and implemented a new food forest program to renovate the massive botanical garden, resulting in at least 20 plants that produce edible crops to produce and sell for the school. He also runs the school’s aquaculture program raising hundreds of fish for sale to fund student field trips, and always tries to find ways to better his community, like recycling programs and writing multiple grants to aid other schools in their agricultural opportunities. State Farm agent Raul Despian presented the award.  

 A 5th grade Science and Math teacher at Colson Elementary School in Seffner, FL. Kimberly created a flexible and non-traditional classroom for her diverse mix of students, including those hard of hearing and other ESE students. She took opportunities to teach students about deafness, interpreters, and how her whole class can work together to become a family. Her ability to communicate with both populations made the Deaf and hard-of-hearing students feel included and part of the classroom. Still, it also gave the hearing students a knowledge base for a new emerging language. This classroom worked so well that it became a model for the county’s Deaf and hard of hearing program. State Farm agent Austin Jeffrey Connors presented the award. State Farm agent Austin Jeffrey Connors presented the award.


One of the three Florida winning teachers received the TOP Exceptional Teacher Award. The other two received the Exceptional Teacher Awards.


The Exceptional Teacher Award is presented to outstanding educator who leverage their excellence in teaching to make a difference in the lives of their students.  These teachers are recognized for fostering an appreciation for diversity in the classroom, teaching students how to resolve conflicts responsibly, giving students a deeper understanding of the relationships between rights and responsibilities, and honoring student voices in the classroom and public spaces. Winner: TOP Teacher Award – Sasha Azouth from James S. Rickards Middle School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.


The other key awards were won by:


The Caring Classroom Award is presented to an educator who integrate community service into the classroom to increase student civic engagement by meaningfully incorporating and championing student voices into the student learning process. Winner: Donna Beck from Madison Avenue School in Irvington, New Jersey. 


The Good Neighbor Award is presented to a teacher who has initiated or teaches driver safety by helping teen drivers understand that driving is a responsibility as well as privilege.

Winner: R. Cummins McNitt in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. 

“In partnership with State Farm, the National Liberty Museum is pleased to recognize this year’s Teacher as Hero recipients who keep liberty at the core of their teaching, and because of that, have made us optimistic about the future of liberty and those who will preserve it,” said Liz Saccardi, Chief Advancement Officer of the National Liberty Museum. “The teachers whom we honor through this program are everyday heroes who go above and beyond to motivate, inspire, and cheer on their students, and we were so happy to see that nominations for these heroes doubled from last year, with applications coming from across eight states.”

“At State Farm we recognize the passion to teach during challenging times is a unique gift. As the saying goes, ‘Teachers give you something to take home to think about – besides homework.’ All of these educators’ accomplishments reflect the very best of our area,” said Jose Soto. State Farm Corporate Responsibility Analyst. “As the nation’s largest insurer, our investment in education is tied to our company mission to help individuals realize their dreams. Teachers help children realize their dreams by providing them with a quality education, which helps them become good community citizens and prepares them for the workforce.”


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