Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated Mass at Saint Raphael Church, and Msgr. Lewis delivered the homily and concelebrated. Fr. Phil Hurley, Saint Raphael Pastor, concelebrated as well. The faithful included parents from both schools where Mrs. Messina teaches, as well as friends and family members of the award winner. School faculty and students shared in the event, too.
Msgr. Lewis, for whom the award is named, spoke in his homily about how Catholic schools are able to help students know God. “What we are doing here is trying to have a foundation,” he said to the students. “Mrs. Messina said that she wanted you … all the students in her art class … to see God’s creation and see the beauty of God. Mrs. Messina knows it’s a beautiful world because it’s God’s world.”
After Mass, Anne Stahel, chair of the Lewis Award Committee, spoke about her recent visit to Mrs. Messina’s classroom. “Oh my, did I ever observe skilled teaching the day I observed Mrs. Messina in her classroom,” she said. Mrs. Stahel discussed how the teacher, a former graphic designer originally from New Jersey, engages students with their work, connects with them personally and creates an environment of classroom banter that’s both polite and controlled.
Mrs. Messina, who has taught in the Diocese for 16 years, received a silver tray, plaque, monetary award and standing ovation. Saint Raphael School received a monetary award and the Lewis Award plaque, which the school may display for a year.
“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Messina said to those gathered. “I share this award with all of my student artists … [whose] hearts and minds are always open to new ideas and challenges.”
The Excellence in Teaching Award honors kindergarten through 12th grade teachers who have shown strong commitment to their communities and demonstrated skill in their profession. The Lewis Award began in 1992. Since its inception 23 teachers have received the Excellence in Teaching Award, and six educators have received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Article and images by Richard Reece, Editor, NC Catholics