Heart of Education Award

When Las Vegas’ Spring Valley High School moved to online classes due to COVID-19, CAROLYN LARA ’14 was determined to offer her students ongoing instruction as their STEM robotics teacher.

In addition to online classes, she used Remind and Google Classroom to keep her students informed about competitions, robotics resources, and workshops. And she held weekly virtual meetings for the robotics club that she had built up from five students to 30 — a diverse group of athletes, students with disabilities, foster kids, immigrants, even youth with a history of behavioral issues.

“They all work well together because they know at the end of the day a diverse family of engineers is priceless,” Lara said. “They can learn from one another’s experiences, and they use that to find creative solutions and ideas.”

This year, the Smith Center honored Lara as one of the top 20 teachers in her district with a $5,000 cash prize and a Heart of Education Award.

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