Excellence In Education Awards: Living Our Guiding Principles award winners for February and March

Home E CES Stories E Excellence In Education Awards: Living Our Guiding Principles award winners for February and March
Article Author: Martha Maloney
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: 4/28/2023
Article URL:

The Collaborative for Educational Services is pleased to announce the February and March winners of our regional Excellence in Education: Living our Guiding Principles Award! We honor those educators across the DYS workforce who embody one or more of the Guiding Principles including: College, Career, and Civic Readiness; Culture and Purpose; and Social Justice and Equity, central to the organization’s mission to improve the academic and life outcomes for the youth they serve.

February 2023


Drew Goatz, Butler Center Teaching Coordinator, is the recipient of the Excellence in Education: Living our Guiding Principles Award for the Central Region for the month of February.  

Nominations highlighted his contributions & excellence in Culture and Purpose.  See what Drew’s colleagues & DYS program staff had to say about him:

“Drew fosters a genuine sense of community in the education program. He is focused on how each student can be included and have their individuality recognized. He also encourages collaboration among the educators. It’s a pleasure to work with him.”

“Drew’s curriculum is very organized and focused, and his presentation style is highly positive.  Drew maintains his positive energy during difficult moments and always gives his students a clear and rational response to the questions they have.  As a direct example of acknowledging students’ personal narratives, Drews students created presentations about their own individual cultural heritage to  present at a multicultural lunch celebration.  Drew’s communication and his understanding of the various educator roles including regional specialists is excellent.”  

“Drew does an incredible job of working with residents who have a tough time going to school and have limited schooling history. He has a knack of getting them motivated and with his encouragement he makes them feel at ease about not knowing all the answers. Drew does run a “tight ship” while in school and this helps “protect” students from the would be embarrassing moments that can occur in the classroom.” 

“Drew continues to be creative and deals with residents who have graduated by keeping them engaged in many other options. Many residents that have been challenged in his classroom have grown to appreciate that he is there for them and because he did challenge them they have grown more confident in their work. Residents voluntarily stay after school to work on various projects, this happens regularly. Drew does a nice job of working with residents on both ends of the learning spectrum and juggles the classwork professionally.”

Congrats Drew and thank you for embracing our guiding principals day in and out. 


The Northeast’s Excellence in Education – Living our Guiding Principles award winner is Frank O’Neil. Frank was nominated by his colleagues, who praised Frank for his excellence in the Guiding Principle of Culture and Purpose:

“Frank comes into our classrooms and becomes the teacher, not a substitute, but the teacher. He has a breadth of knowledge spanning multiple content areas. Perhaps his most outstanding attribute is his ability to connect with our kids.  He has a way of getting the most out of the students we serve everyday.  COntent, yes; but he is able to elicit amazing conversation about important topics without them realizing the brain work they are really doing. He connects with program staff and leadership in positive, collegial ways. Our program people are as happy to see him as we are.”

“Frank has been a consistent and loyal contributor to the NERP program who can be counted on to help out anywhere whenever needed, for any class ranging from science to reading His demeanor is friendly and professional and amicable.  He brings consistency to our classrooms and is a great presence to have in the teachers room.”

“Frank  has a great connection to the students!  He’s able to engage each and everyone of them in any topic in history.  I have never ever heard any student say anything negative about Frank.  He displays a great deal of compassion and humor with this population and the students are always happy to see him, especially here at BFT.”


The West is excited to announce our winner for the February 2023 Excellence in Education Award, Christine Cohee. 

Christine was nominated by her peers for her outstanding work around Culture and Purpose as well as Career and Civic Readiness. 

One colleague wrote of Christine “Christine consistently brings interactive and engaging lessons to her students. She is patient and modifies her instruction to best meet the needs of everyone in the classroom. She is reflective and introspective. Additionally, she works very well with her colleagues to co-plan and share in collective student successes. It is evident in her enthusiasm that she truly wants each student to succeed in their own way.” 

Another said of her, “Christine is dedicated to bringing culturally relevant and engaging learning opportunities to her students. She is invested in her work and in collaborating with her colleagues to best develop complex yet accessible lessons. She is always ready to celebrate a victory for her colleagues and students and her positive attitude is contagious.”

Congratulations Christine!!


Please join me in congratulating Zach Heinrich as our Excellence in Education winner for February 2023.

A teacher at Commonwealth Secure School, Zach teaches History and ELA.  He joined the team in September after spending the summer in the Central Region,and Metro is so very happy to have him here. On any given day, Zach can be found holding students to high standards, while maintaining his great sense of humor and a welcoming classroom. Zach’s nomination highlighted his contributions and excellence in Culture and Purpose. 

Please see below for what some of Zach’s colleagues had to say about him:

“Zach’s calm demeanor, sense of humor, and thoughtful lessons are gold for our classrooms. He engages the kids with grace, holding them to high standards and enabling the most reluctant students to make progress.”

“Zach has done an incredible job explicitly teaching students close reading skills in ELA and developing their capacity to write with evidence in History. He has been systematic in his approach, building up these complex skills by starting with simple steps and getting more complicated over time. Students are responding well and have started to develop new academic habits that are helpful and support the growth of all the different learners in his class.”

Congratulations, Zach, for living our Guiding Principle of Culture & Purpose.


Please join us in congratulating Elizabeth DaCosta as the February 2023 recipient of the Living Our Guiding Principles Award!  Elizabeth joined our team in the fall as an Itinerant Teacher. Elizabeth supports programs in a variety of ways.  Most recently she has been providing instruction at Southeast Secure Detention.  Although with us for just a few months, Elizabeth has been nominated by several colleagues including Matthew Hicks and Rochelle Victor.  

Matthew nominated Elizabeth in the Principles of Culture & Purpose and Social Justice & Equity.  He shared the following: 

“Elizabeth…has quickly jumped in to help guide our students’ learning. I had the pleasure of working with her for a whole week before Christmas break. Elizabeth collaborated with me, bringing in many great and useful ideas. Elizabeth quickly built lesson plans based on social justice and equity regarding working conditions and labor unions in the 1900s to today, truly engaging our students on SSR. She pushed our students towards success and always kept a positive outlook – I am very happy to have spent the time working with her as she has a warm and contagious devotion to teaching!” 

Rochelle shared the following about her new colleague:

“Elizabeth (Liz) DaCosta, has hit the ground running since her arrival to Southeast Secure Detention.  Liz comes to us with a plethora of classroom experience and always has new and creative ideas!  During the month of January, Liz, was instrumental in supporting our students during the Breakfree:  Unearthed project.  It was Liz’s idea to create a “wedge cut out”  to give our project the 3-D effect.  Our students then added to this idea by creating the multiple layers of Earth and used unique objects to describe our atmosphere. Because of  Liz’s input, our students were given honorable mention on their project and now rank as one of the top ten in the country!” 

Congratulations Elizabeth

March 2023


Northeast’s Excellence in Education – Living Our Guiding Principles award winner for March is Elizabeth Polvere.  Elizabeth was nominated by her colleagues, who praised Elizabeth for her excellence in the Guiding Principle of Culture and Purpose:

“Elizabeth helps the students to develop their creative side by allowing them to express themselves in a safe and non-judgmental environment.”

“Elizabeth creates opportunities for students to show their artistic abilities in a meaningful way.”

“Elizabeth always cultivates a joyful classroom environment. She encourages all her students to be their most authentic selves and express their creativity. She is also always flexible and willing to work with other teachers. She is truly an example of the guiding principle of culture and purpose, and she brings so much to the Northeast team. We are so thankful to have her!”

“Youth learn in classrooms where joy, creativity, and compassion are evident; their voices are valued and identities are affirmed; and dignity and safety and respect are fostered by all.”

Elizabeth goes above and beyond to create a classroom that exemplifies all aspects of this guiding principle. The students are given opportunities to create in ways that are not part of the core content classes. Many of our students have found their hidden talents in her classroom. She is willing to listen to the students and adjust projects as needed. She is patient and she is kind. And sometimes, when the students do not perform as expected, she allows them to move on and begin again. Elizabeth most definitely deserves this award.”


Luke Bolton, Metro Instructional Coach, is the recipient of the Excellence in Education: Living our Guiding Principles Award for the Metro Region for the month of March.

His nomination highlighted his contributions and excellence in Social Justice & Equity.

Please see what some of Luke’s colleagues had to say about him:

“Luke is a continual source of inspiration for teachers. He is skilled at seeing the big picture while also helping teachers prioritize the most effective plans for the day. He cares about students and colleagues and it shows.”

“Luke is so helpful with everything from content to administrative tasks to just life advice. I know I can always count on him and that he will help me solve my issues, without passing any judgment. He is someone I can always count on and I’m so grateful to have him!”

“Lots of great strategies and planning tips.”

“An endless support system. Luke is not only involved in helping with curriculum, he truly cares about students and teachers. We are so lucky to have him here in Metro.”

Congratulations Luke! And thank you for embracing our guiding principles day in and out!


Andrea Anderson, Butler Center SEIS Teacher, is the recipient of the Excellence in Education: Living our Guiding Principles Award for the Central Region for the month of March.

Nominations highlighted her contributions & excellence in Culture and Purpose

See what Andrea’s colleagues & student had to say about her:

“Andrea uses her creativity and content knowledge to make engaging daily lessons. She has a unique way of making students feel supported and able to do anything they put their minds to. As a team player, Andrea successfully works with the other teachers and staff in the program to keep the students motivated!”

“Andrea goes above and beyond to support all students within the classroom and a team player helping other teachers to make Butler a positive work environment. She is thoughtful when reflecting on student needs, completing paperwork for IEPs and student progress reports, and modifying assignments to be aimed at the students’ needs. She is an amazing co-teacher that helps to enhance the lessons and brings engaging ideas to the lessons. Andrea is always patient and kind to the student population, holds the students to high expectations, and continuously encourages students to do their best work. Andrea is a pleasure to work with”


The West is excited to announce our winner for the March 2023 Excellence in Education Award, Tim Grimaldi. 

Tim is the ELA and History teacher at RISE Treatment. 

He was nominated by his fellow teachers for his work around Culture and Purpose in the program. Tim’s colleagues talked about his “engaging lessons and investing in seeing his students’ success. Tim is encouraging and supportive with students and fellow coworkers”. They also said of him that “Tim has fit in well at RISE and been a contributing team member. He has shown flexibility and has already formed good relationships with the students in a short period of time.

Congratulations Tim!

Translate »