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April 16, 2017

St. Louis de Montfort teacher honored with national award

Kristy Worthington with some of her students at St. Louis de Montfort School in Fishers. She has been named a winner of the 2017 “Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award” from the National Catholic Educational Association. (Photo provided)

Kristy Worthington with some of her students at St. Louis de Montfort School in Fishers. She has been named a winner of the 2017 “Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award” from the National Catholic Educational Association. (Photo provided)

By Caroline B. Mooney

FISHERS — Kristy Worthington, a third-grade teacher at St. Louis de Montfort School, has been named a winner of the 2017 “Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award” for dedication and commitment to excellence from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

“Teachers are the backbone of our Catholic educational system, providing day-to-day instruction in faith and academics for students at more than 6,500 Catholic elementary and secondary schools across the nation,” said James Pavlacka, director of Leadership Development at NCEA. “The excellence that these teachers display is an inspiration to all of us who work in Catholic education.”

Worthington is among 41 winners of the annual award, chosen from more than 150,000 Catholic school educators. The winners will be recognized during the annual NCEA 2017 Convention & Expo, to be held April 18-20 in St. Louis.

Worthington will attend an award dinner during the convention with Peg Dispenzieri, interim superintendent of schools for the Lafayette diocese, and Trish Bentivoglio, assistant principal of St. Louis de Montfort School.

Principal Scott Stewart nominated Worthington for the award.

“Kristy and I have worked together at St. Louis de Montfort for the past two years,” he said. “Having observed her teaching and interactions with this community ... I understand what is meant by the word ‘vocation.’ Kristy’s work is clearly and truly a calling and her life’s vocation.”

Worthington has been teaching for 16 years, all in second and third grades at St. Louis de Montfort School. She also is an active member of the parish community.

“Her ability to reach students is a gift,” Stewart said. “Respect, honesty, integrity, sincerity, positive attitude and good old-fashioned hard work describe Kristy’s style. She also works hard every year to learn new teaching techniques and to employ them in class. 

“Kristy is a master teacher and an expert at her craft,” he said. “She does the ‘little extras’ that add up to big benefits for students, parents and this community.”

Worthington coordinates St. Louis de Montfort’s Advance Ed school accreditation team, is a member of the Teacher Assistance Team and serves as a mentor to new teachers. 

“Kristy is a great example to our entire SLDM community of what Christ meant when he told Peter three times in the Gospel of John to ‘feed my lambs and tend my sheep.’ I see her love for her Catholic faith being transferred to her students and their parents and it truly warms my soul,” Stewart said. “We are a school blessed with passion-filled, mission-driven educators that make a significant positive difference in the lives of our students, parents and staff. Kristy is at the top of that list of teachers!”

Worthington said that her mission as a teacher is driven by the words of St. Theodore Guerin: “Love the children first, then teach them.”

“When people ask me how many children I have, I always jokingly say 30 — three at home and 27 at school,” she said. “I truly love each and every one of my students and want them to succeed. I try to make learning fun and engaging. I want the student who comes into my room thinking, ‘I don’t like math (or reading, etc.)’ to leave thinking, ‘Math is fun, and I’m great at it!’ If I’m teaching a concept and it reminds me of lyrics in a song, I will start singing a few lines of that song. The students and I have a good laugh, then we get right back to work. 

“I always tell my students that we are a family, and I make sure they know I will always be available to them,” Worthington said. “Students take comfort in the fact that they can always come to me even after they have left the classroom.

“What I love the most about SLDM is the supportive community of administrators, parents and teachers,” she said. “I feel everyone is invested in our school. The priests and administrators invest in the staff and help us grow professionally and spiritually. The parents invest in their children’s education by supporting the teachers through volunteering or the work they do at home. I also cherish the relationship I have with the students and their families. I love teaching the students during the week and then running into them at CYO events, out in the community or worshiping with them at Mass on Sunday. It is also incredibly rewarding to watch them grow as they move through the grades at the school.”

Surprised by her nomination for the award, Worthington finds winning to be humbling.

“I truly feel like teaching is more than my career, it is my calling,” she said. “I cannot imagine doing anything else or being anywhere other than SLDM. I hope that at the end of the day, I am helping students grow academically and calling them into a deeper relationship with God.”

“We are certainly blessed to have a talented and faith-filled teacher like Kristy at SLDM,” Bentivoglio said. “She exemplifies the great Catholic teacher because she cares for her students’ growth both academically and spiritually. She sets high standards for herself and is a joy to be around. She truly lets Jesus’ love shine through her. Kristy never fails to help her colleagues with teaching ideas or in fostering an energetic work environment.  She is a blessing to all of us.”

NCEA’s convention is the largest private education association gathering in the country. It draws participants from all facets of Catholic education, including elementary and secondary schools, religious education programs and colleges and universities.

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