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NCEA honors Catholic educators' leadership, vision, innovative programs

By Tom Tracy Catholic News Service
Posted: 4/9/2015

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Tobias Harkleroad, principal at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, Md., left, accepts the Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ Award for exceptional leadership in Catholic education from the National Catholic Educational Association in Orlando, Fla., April 6. Presenting the award is Christian Brother Robert Bimonte, president of NCEA, and Sister Catherine McNamee, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who is a past NCEA president. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)

ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- Any national association's convention is a time for professional development, networking and refreshing the soul, but also a time for formally recognizing exemplary members.

The 2015 National Catholic Educational Association's annual convention and expo was no exception, with an extensive awards program woven into its April 7-9 programming at the Orange County Convention Center this year. Nearly 6,000 Catholic educators are gathered for the event.

"We applaud the educational leadership and excellence that each of our award recipients provide for our Catholic education community nationwide," said NCEA's president, Christian Brother Robert Bimonte. "As leaders of faith formation and ambassadors of Catholic education, we commend our award recipients for their hard work, devotion and passion."

Brother Bimonte and NCEA staff held their Presidential Awards dinner ceremony April 6 at the Hyatt Place Hotel near the convention center. It is the NCEA's top category of awards, and this year there were some 70 awards.

James Herzog, associate director for education at the Florida Catholic Conference in Tallahassee, received the Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award, presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting full and fair parental choice in education.

St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, Maryland, was named winner of the Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ Award, presented to an individual or institution that offers exceptional leadership in promoting a vision of Catholic education that welcomes and serves cultural and economic diversity or serves students with diverse needs.

Jerrold Ross, dean emeritus of the School of Education and academic vice president at St. John's University in New York, was presented with the C. Albert Koob Merit Award.

It is given to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to Catholic education at any level -- early childhood, elementary, secondary, higher education -- or in any educational setting, in one or more of these areas: teaching, administration, parish religious education, research, publication or educational leadership.

Robert Svoboda, president of the Donnadale Freedom Foundation in New Smyrna Beach, was presented with the Msgr. John F. Meyers Award. It is presented to an individual who has provided substantial support for Catholic education through contributions in the areas of development, public relations, scholarship programs, financial management or government relations.

Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando was named winner of the Dr. Karen M. Ristau Innovations Award presented annually to an individual, school or program that has furthered the mission of Catholic education through an innovative program or approach.