Top Story - Heart of Education Awards program honors 920 teachers

10 May Heart of Education Awards program honors 920 teachers

Speaking with great enthusiasm, The Smith Center CEO/President Myron Martin said he “couldn’t be more proud than to have seen another crop of extraordinary teachers” be recognized with Heart of Education awards. The second annual awards ceremony was held April 29, at The Smith Center, honoring 920 finalists, an increase of 120 teachers from last year.

Powered by the Rogers Foundation, the awards program recognizes Clark County School District (CCSD) educators who have made exceptional efforts for their students. This year’s event featured musical entertainment plus keynote speaker Dr. Jill Biden, former teacher and Second Lady of the United States. Biden is a lifelong educator who raises awareness of education issues across the country.

In her speech, Biden explained, “During the Obama-Biden administration, I had the opportunity to meet with incredible people from around the world – artists, creators and scientists who change the way we see the world, presidents and monarchs whose decisions changed millions of lives. But when I think about the people who are truly shaping the future, I don’t think about those luminaries or world leaders. I think of a room like this, full of people like you. I think of teachers.”

Twenty educators were chosen to receive special recognition with a cash prize of $5,000 each and a commemorative Heart of Education medallion. Each winner’s respective school also received a $1,000 donation.

The 2017 Heart of Education Awards recipients include:

  • Alexandra Matthews, Barbara and Hank Greenspun Junior High School


  • Damon Wahl, Kay Carl Elementary School


  • Deborah Fleischer, Jack Lund Schofield Middle School


  • Demitrio Frausto, William E. Ferron Elementary School


  • Diane Koutsulis, Green Valley High School


  • Erick Ekker, Bob Miller Middle School


  • Hela Naziri, Cheyenne High School


  • Jeffrey Hinton, Advanced Technologies Academy


  • Kathryn Faulkner, Myrtle Tate Elementary School


  • Kelly Kirkbride, Elaine Wynn Elementary School


  • Kimberly Murray, R.E. Tobler Elementary School


  • Kimberly Butterfield, Whitney Elementary School


  • Linda Marie Wise, Rex Bell Elementary School


  • Perryn Hale, Roy W. Martin Middle School


  • Renee Ara, Robert Lunt Elementary School


  • Ruben Perta, Early Childhood Department


  • Ryan Duff, Basic Academy of International Studies


  • Saleutogi Lualemaga, Jerome D. Mack Middle School


  • Sergio Lopez III, Chaparral High School


  • Shannon Sheldon, Southwest Career and Technical Academy

The Las Vegas Review-Journal also rewarded four People’s Choice Awards to teachers selected by a public vote, with each recipient receiving $2,500. Recipients included:

  • Albert L. Ocampo, Southwest Career and Technical Academy


  • Bonnie Lamping, Shirley and Bill Wallin Elementary School


  • Jeffrey C. Archibald, Las Vegas Academy of the Arts


  • Kristan N. Nigro, Halle Hewetson Elementary School

The prestigious invitation-only ceremony was emceed by stage, film and TV star Erich Bergen, best known for his role in hit CBS show Madam Secretary. The event also showcased performances by Michael Cavanaugh, star of Broadway musical MOVIN’ OUT, Las Vegas headliner Clint Holmes and others. The event also included remarks from CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky.

In addition to The Rogers Foundation, major supporters of the event included The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada State Bank, PRG, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, High Roller Las Vegas, Tenors of Rock, Cirque du Soleil®, SeaQuest, Switch and Brooklyn Bowl.

Martin said, “These awards are really about the community coming together to support education and, in particular, to thank great teachers. And that is The Smith Center’s role in this community: to bring people together to do great things.”

For more information about The Heart of Education Awards, visit