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Katy, TX News (April 21, 2014) – Three Houston-area educators have been chosen to receive the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) 2014 Walter Kase Teacher Excellence Award at the Walter Kase Teacher Excellence Award Luncheon at 11:30 a.m., May 2, at the Westin Galleria, 5060 West Alabama, Houston, TX, 77056.  The ADL founded in 1913, is a leading civil rights organization with programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. The Walter Kase Teacher Excellence Award pays tribute to three Region IV educators for their outstanding efforts to create an atmosphere in their schools that rejects prejudice and promotes respect for and understanding of diversity.

The recipients are first grade bilingual education teacher Beneranda Alvarez of Andre Elementary School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, sixth grade teacher Rebecca Ryan Millhench of the Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy in the Houston Independent School District, and Texas history teacher and department chair Phyllis Nawrot of Cardiff Junior High in the Katy Independent School District.

Beneranda Alvarez recognized that her bilingual education students weren’t exposed to other cultures in Andre Elementary School because their language skills kept them segregated, so she created the Andre Cultural Museum.  The Museum is a two-week transformation of her classroom into a world of diverse cultures and traditions, helping her students learn about people who are different, and that their differences matter and enrich society.

Students in Rebecca Ryan Millhench’s Sixth Grade Contemporary World Cultures class at Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy are upstanders, because Millhench has them participate in her “Be an Upstander” program.   The students spend the school year reading books and collecting experiences that increase their cultural awareness, teach them how prejudice and discrimination ultimately can lead to genocide, and how non-violence and respect lead to growth and success.  Millhench writes: “As Nelson Mandela stated, ‘education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.’  In order for my students to change their world, they start in room 115.”

Phyllis Nawrot became a teacher later in life, but she embarked upon her career with the enthusiasm, creativity, and commitment of a freshly-minted college graduate. As history department chair at Cardiff Junior High, she coordinates the history club, and her students drink up the lessons they learn in their history club activities like sponges. They visit museums such as the Holocaust Museum Houston and the Buffalo Soldier Museum. They read about other cultures and learn about their struggles. Nawrot teaches them to stand up against prejudice, respect differences and value diversity, and brings awareness that different ways of life matter.

The Walter Kase Teacher Excellence Award is named for Holocaust survivor Walter Kase, who has dedicated his life to telling his story about life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The luncheon is underwritten by Sysco Foods.

For more information or to set up an interview or coverage, call Dena Marks at 713-627-3490, ext. 234, or via cell phone at 832-567-8843.   Tickets start at $150.  For more information on tickets, check out the event website.