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12 Teachers Receive Honors During Celebrations of Excellence

Twelve teachers across the National Heritage Academies (NHA) network recently were honored by their staff and students as part of its annual awards program.
This year NHA recognized 167 of its partner-schools instructional professionals through the Excellence in Teaching awards. Ceremonies were held throughout the week during Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to recognize educators for their dedication to student learning and transforming lives.
 Three teachers
From left, Rachel Licata, Vanessa Robert, and Diana Hubbard.
Twelve teachers received the award and another 155 were recognized as finalists. The winners were revealed with a surprise assembly at each school complete with cheers from staff, students, and family.

From left, Jamie Bathurst, Sierra Anthony, and Felita Mitchell.
The NHA Excellence Awards consist of: Excellence in Teaching, Administrative Excellence, and Dean of Excellence. For Excellence in Teaching, employees from across the organization are selected, including kindergarten through eighth grade, high school, specials, specialists, and paraprofessionals. Administrative Excellence recognizes a school office team, and Dean of Excellence recognizes one dean from the organization.
From left, Suzanne Jones, Lisa Jackson-Clayborn, and Kristen Miller.

The Excellence in Teaching winners are:
  • Vanessa Robert at Canton Charter Academy (Young 5s/Kindergarten)
  • Sierra Anthony at Knapp Charter Academy (First grade)
  • Mary Ellen Kitko at Forsyth Academy (Second grade)
  • Jamie Bathurst at Legacy Charter Academy (Third grade)
  • Lisa Jackson-Clayborn at Flagship Charter Academy (Fourth grade)
  • Diana Hubbard at Aspire Charter Academy (Fifth grade)
  • Kristen Miller at Johnston Charter Academy (Sixth grade)
  • Nickeisha Grey at Brooklyn Dreams Charter School (Seventh/Eighth grade)
  • Jeffrey Saneford at Grand River Prep (High school)
  • Rachel Licata at Walton Charter Academy (Specials)
  • Felita Mitchell at Willow Charter Academy (Specialists)
  • Suzanne Jones at Vanderbilt Charter Academy (Paraprofessionals)
Finalists were chosen based on a variety of metrics, including individual performance ratings/scores, student learning results, teamwork, positive student relationships, resiliency, discretionary effort, and core values from the 2021-22 school year. In addition, a teacher needs to be recommended for the award by their principal and director of school quality.​​
From left, Nickeisha Grey, Mary Ellen Kitko, and Jeffrey Saneford. 
Said NHA CEO Brian Britton: “We are extremely proud of our teachers’ ability to connect with students and make learning accessible for everyone – thereby allowing students’ strengths to shine even brighter. Our educators exemplify our pledge to parents by providing high-quality academic instruction and teaching Moral Focus virtues with passion – both head and heart matter.”

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About Aspire Charter Academy:
Aspire Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Gary, Indiana, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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