The National Liberty Museum (NLM) announced the ten winners of the 15th annual State Farm Teacher as Hero Award. Three of the 10 are Florida teachers.
The Teacher as Hero Award 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. In addition, three winners, selected from the ten, in the categories of Service Learning, Driver Education initiatives, and Overall Excellence in Teaching will each receive $500.
Each of the winning teachers was chosen from among 40 national applications. 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.
2021 State Farm – National Liberty Museum Florida Teacher as Hero Award Recipients:
Dawn Donnelly, teaches Digital Video Production and running the Film and Technology Association at Pompano Beach High School in Pompano Beach, FL. Donnelly has created home where students feel accepted and challenged, and free to express themselves to do what interests them, while learning teamwork and communication skills. She strengthens her classes so that they have confidence in themselves, giving assistance when needed but allowing them the respect to make their own choices. As a mentor, she guides her students through the difficulties of high school, human relationships, college readiness and adult life. The Caring Classroom award winner.
Beth Susan Kleinman, the 6-8th grade STEM teacher at McNicol Middle School in Hollywood, FL. With endless creativity and a passion for finding STEM opportunities, Kleinman has kept her students connected to the community during remote teaching with diverse guest speakers in robotics and engineering, the first newspaper journalist in the nation to cover the LBGQT+ community, and a virtual field trip to see a theater performance honoring notable African American women. Organizing a Girls Who Code Club to promote greater diversity in STEM professions, she celebrates tolerance in her class in such a way that every students knows they have a respected place in school and can have a respected place in the community for their future.
Al Poitter, who teaches at Trafalgar Middle School in Cape Coral, FL. For almost two decades, Poitter has had an extraordinary impact on the students, staff and community. He started a small garden led by students and volunteers that has grown to produce over 32 tons of food for use in the school kitchen as well as provided food for a local soup kitchen and for those in need. He also created the Builder’s Club which looks for areas in need, allows students to devise a plan to support that need and then encourages the students to organize and implement the event. Projects have ranged from canned food drives to coastal clean-ups to school fundraisers for local causes. The Builder’s Club fundraising also enabled a small African village to dig and build a well that provided the village with a clean and reliable water source. This year’s Exceptional Teacher award winner.In addition, two out of the three Florida winning teachers received the Exceptional Teacher Award and the Caring Classroom Award.
The Caring Classroom Award is presented to educators 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: Dawn Donnelly from Pompano Beach High School in Pompano Beach, FL.
The Exceptional Teacher Award is presented to outstanding educators 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: Al Poitter from Trafalgar Middle School in Cape Coral, FL.
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: Stephanie Freeman. from Darby Township School in Glenolden, PA.
“We are thrilled that our Teacher as Hero Award has expanded to be a national award, with winners this year from four states. The teachers we are honoring are heroes for the work they do every day to inspire their students to preserve liberty by breaking down the barriers of prejudice and violence. These heroes in turn create future heroes in their students,” said Gwen Borowsky, Executive Director of the National Liberty Museum. “In this year when teachers have faced unprecedented teaching obstacles, these winners embraced the challenge – and conquered it with creativity, compassion and commitment.”
“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.”
About the National Liberty Museum
Located in the heart of historic Philadelphia, the National Liberty Museum brings liberty to life through stories of people whose character and courage have expanded liberty for all. The Museum’s exhibits, educational experiences and public programs inspire visitors to think about liberty as an ongoing human quest that we all share