Western & Southern, CPS announce Educator of Year semifinalists

A group of 15 Cincinnati Public Schools educators are in the running for this year’s Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award.

The award, established by Western & Southern Financial Group in 2007, honors one educator each year in CPS who elevates the educational process in the district to an exceptional level through personal commitment, dedicated focus and outstanding results.

Each of the semifinalists had at least one nomination submitted by a fellow CPS teacher and/or administrator.

The full list is below.

The 2024 Hawkins Award recipient will be announced May 16 at a ceremony and reception hosted by Western & Southern at the Guilford Building in downtown Cincinnati. The financial group will also present the winner with a check for $10,000.

“I am proud of the great educators in our district who are vital to the work we are doing at Cincinnati Public Schools to improve outcomes for students,” said Iranetta Rayborn Wright, CPS’ superintendent and CEO. “Our educators go above and beyond every day to serve our students, and I’m excited to see some of those individuals recognized for their exceptional commitment.”

Honoring a greatness in local education

Wright voiced appreciation to Western & Southern for its ongoing commitment to honoring CPS teachers. The award is named in honor of Lawrence C. Hawkins, a former educator who served as a distinguished member of the Western & Southern board of directors for many years. 

Hawkins, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cincinnati as well as a doctorate in education. He worked as an educator and administrator in the Cincinnati school district before joining faculty at UC where he founded the College of Community Affairs. He later served as UC’s vice president of continuing education and metropolitan affairs before being promoted to executive vice president of administration.

Hawkins received recognition as a Great Living Cincinnatian in 1989 by the Cincinnati Regional Chamber. He passed away in 2009.

Through the award, Western & Southern and CPS aim to recognize teachers who exhibit many of the qualities Hawkins exhibited in the classroom. Nominations are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Educator instills in children a love for learning and a desire to achieve.
  • Educator has demonstrated a positive impact on student achievement levels.
  • Educator serves as a role model who encourages their peers and colleagues to achieve excellence.
  • Educator serves as a change agent who advances the quality of education.

To be eligible for the Hawkins Award, CPS faculty members must have at least five years of experience as an educator and three or more most recent years of educational experience in the district. 

Previous award winners are not eligible for repeat consideration. 

Last year’s winner was Mary Webb of Withrow University High School.

“The Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award is a living tribute to a great man and a wonderful way for us to recognize and reward these educators for their commitment to inspiring Cincinnati’s children to excel,” said John F. Barrett, the chair, president and CEO of Western & Southern.

2024 Hawkins Educator of the Year Award semifinalists

  • Jude Anderson, Mt. Airy School
  • Lynn Collins, Frederick Douglass School
  • Ariel Crump, Pleasant Ridge Montessori School
  • Doreena Fox, Walnut Hills High School
  • Susan Grasso, Hughes STEM High School
  • Tracy Greely Howard, Hughes STEM High School
  • Jaton Kershaw, Woodford Academy
  • Katrina Kunze, Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies
  • Karen Lewis, William H. Taft School
  • Jerry M. Moore, Roberts Academy
  • Suzanne Nall, Mt. Washington School
  • Aaron Parker, Aiken New Tech High School
  • Nicholas Pavely, Hughes STEM High School
  • Sarah Sifri, Winton Hills Academy
  • Deidre Simpson, Evanston Academy

Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award


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