Monsignor Gerald L. Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching Finalists 2018-2019

The Lewis Award Committee is pleased to announce the following Finalists for the 2018–2019 Monsignor Gerald L. Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching:

Mrs. Julie Cummins, St. Patrick Catholic School, Fayetteville
Mrs. Laurie Huger, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, Raleigh
Mr. Homer Spring, Infant of Prague Catholic School, Jacksonville

The Recipient of the Award will be selected following February onsite classroom visitations and interviews by the Committee.

Congratulations Finalists!

Mrs. Julie Cummins has taught First Grade at St. Patrick Catholic School in Fayetteville for the past 14 years. When asked to describe what it takes to be an outstanding educator Mrs. Cummins responded that

“a positive relationship is needed between teacher and student to foster growth both academically and emotionally. I believe in differentiated instruction and….finding the best learning style/environment for each of my students. It takes… persistence and reflection, but it’s so rewarding when students meet their full potential.”

Mrs. Cummins actively participates in the Cumberland County Autism Society and the Triangle Down Syndrome Network. She also has assumed leadership roles as Pre-K to Fourth Grade Team Leader; Student Council Moderator; long time Parent Teacher Organization Board Member; Book-It Club Coordinator; and, Program Facilitator for the Parish Newly Married Program.

Mrs. Laurie Huger has 24 years of experience with the past 17 as the Third Grade teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Raleigh. Mrs. Huger describes teaching as a

“vocation (where you must) want to create lasting relationships with students, faculty, and families. Continually stepping out of your comfort zone will keep you fresh! Being a team player is essential to being an integral part of your school, professional learning communities, and student support teams”.

Mrs. Huger started and has coached OLL middle school lacrosse team for 14 years and has an annual lacrosse clinic for middle school students to host younger students, donations of food collected at the clinic benefit Catholic Parish Outreach. Mrs. Huger is co-chair of the annual One Love Lacrosse Playday to benefit One Love Foundation, which focuses on teaching students about healthy relationships; facilitated workshops to educate high school students about healthy relationships; a member of the school technology committee; a volunteer coordinator for NC Catholics Volunteer (rebuilding homes in Tarboro following Hurricane Matthew); and, a parish council member for 6 years.

Mr. Homer Spring has a teaching career that spans 40 years with the last 5 as the middle school mathematics teacher at Infant of Prague Catholic School, Jacksonville. Mr. Spring believes

“teaching is a gift (that I use) to connect math to my students’ everyday lives. Lessons incorporate real-world applications… When I can find what ‘triggers’ an individual student’s interest I use that to make math relevant to them”.

Mr. Spring has implemented multiple enrichment activities for IOP students, including the Catholic Math League; Middle School MathCounts coach; Elementary MathCounts Coach; Science Olympiad Coach/Advisor; and History Bee. He volunteers to teach technology electives; is instrumental in updating and troubleshooting technology in classrooms and parish office; a Eucharistic Minister; a safe Environment Trainer; Jacksonville Planning Advisory Board Chair; and past Chair of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Longtime Gibbons Educator Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Agnes Penny, who retired in May after 24 of service to Cardinal Gibbons High School, received a Lewis Award November 3. Penny received the Lifetime Achievement in Catholic Education award, which honors people who have made a significant commitment to the Catholic schools of the diocese, as well as their church and civic communities.

While at Gibbons, Penny worked as campus minister, theology educator, retreat leader and, ultimately, director of Outreach.

“Agnes is someone who once you meet you are changed forever, someone who truly brings the kingdom of heaven here to earth,” Gibbons retreat director Crista Anders, who has known Penny for nine years, said. “Agnes does not know any strangers… she always makes you feel like family.”


The first Lifetime Achievement award was given in 1999. Since that time a total of nine lifetime awards, including the award for Penny, have been given.

The Lewis Award, named for Monsignor Gerald Lewis, was initiated in 1992 by Anne Williams Stahel to honor outstanding educators in the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Raleigh. Each year an Excellence in Teaching award is given.

Photo: Rachelle Garbarine