20 Clark County educators get $5K at Heart of Education Awards

Teachers from left, Kathy Clemens, from left, West Career & Technical Academy, Joy Myers, o ...

Ella Nava arrived late to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Friday when she found out she was one of the 20 educators to win a Heart of Education Award.

Nava, who has been a teacher in the Clark County School District for five years as a J-1 visa exchange teacher from the Philippines, is a primary autism teacher at Paradise Elementary School. Nava said it was her first year being nominated for the award and that she was not expecting to win.

But Nava walked into The Smith Center and heard her principal talking about her accomplishments as a teacher and announcing her win.

“First year nominated and then a winner,” Nava said afterward. “That’s crazy. That’s overwhelming.”

The Heart of Education Awards honors educators who go above and beyond for students in Clark County schools. The school district is the fifth largest in the country, with more than 300,000 students, or 75 percent of the students in Nevada.

The seventh-annual awards for Clark County teachers returned for its in-person ceremony Friday night, with the winning educators receiving a cash award of $5,000 and a $1,000 donation to a program of each teacher’s choice.

More than 700 Clark County School District educators who were finalists for the awards were invited to the ceremony, which has been held remotely for the past two years because of the pandemic.

The event was preceded by a red carpet ceremony for teachers to get their pictures taken. Educators were recognized during an hourlong special on Vegas PBS last year. In 2020, educators received a video call from their principals and Smith Center President and CEO Myron Martin.

This year’s 20 award recipients also received a commemorative Heart of Education medallion. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is the print media sponsor for the awards.

The nomination process for teachers closed in February. Nominees were invited to share stories of how they had positively impacted students and schools this year. Applications were reviewed by community leaders, education experts, sponsors and Smith Center staff.

“It’s an honor to be a winner among 700,” Nava said. “I believe all the teachers right now, after the pandemic, everybody deserves to be nominated. Everybody deserves to be a winner.”

Contact Lorraine Longhi at llonghi@reviewjournal.com. Follow @lolonghi on Twitter.