When Sheburra Moore-Haugsness’ former student Grace Kang was accepted into Yale University last year, she didn’t let her move into the dorms alone. She made the cross-country trip with her.
The Roy Martin Middle School teacher never stopped being a mentor and friend to Kang, whose father had been diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t accompany Kang for the start of her freshman year.
The two have a connection that’s easy to see, one that began when Kang was a bright sixth-grader in Moore-Haugsness’ math class.
“She’s an only child, so I kind of act like her sister,” Moore-Haugsness said. “Sometimes younger, sometimes older.”
“Mostly younger,” Kang said, laughing.
Moore-Haugsness was one of 21 teachers who won a Heart of Education award last year, a $5,000 prize that honors the Clark County School District’s finest educators.
But she didn’t keep all of the award — when Kang struggled with financial aid for Yale, Moore-Haugsness gave her $2,000.
“A lot of that moral support that I don’t always get, that I think most kids are unfortunate to not always get, I had the blessing of getting that from her,” said Kang, 19.
Moore-Haugsness’ generosity didn’t stop there. She also gave $300 to the single mother of two of her students, she said, and $1,300 to the Roy Martin school and staff.
On Saturday, the second annual Heart of Education awards — sponsored by The Smith Center and Rogers Foundation — will honor 20 teachers like Moore-Haugsness for commitment to their profession. Hundreds of finalists also are expected to attend the event that begins at 7 p.m. at The Smith Center.
“Poor teachers for so long have just been sort of beaten down — it’s always the teacher’s fault,” said Rogers Foundation founder Beverly Rogers. “Well no, it’s the teacher’s credit. They’re the ones that are mentoring and they’re inspiring our future.”
The Rogers Foundation has committed more than $2 million for the awards over a 10-year period, according to Rogers. This year, 1,500 nominations were narrowed to a little over 900 finalists.
The 20 winners will each receive $5,000, plus $1,000 to go toward a program of their choosing at their school.
All finalists also qualify for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s People’s Choice Award, which allows the public to vote for their favorite teacher. The four teachers with the most votes will receive $2,500 each, an award that will also be announced on Saturday.
“These are kids who are going to be the future of the community, the country and the planet even,” Rogers said of students. “So it’s important for (teachers) to know how much they’re appreciated.”
20 Heart of Education award winners will receive:
— $5,000 prize
— $1,000 to go toward a program at their school
— Customized medallion