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Western & Southern Names Finalists for 17th Annual Educator of the Year Award

Western & Southern Financial Group •
Hawkins logo

Western & Southern Financial Group, in partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), has named 10 semifinalists and five finalists for the 2023 Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award. The award, established by Western & Southern in 2007, honors one educator each year in CPS who elevates the educational process in the district to an exceptional level through personal commitment, dedicated focus and outstanding results. This year’s nomination process was among the most successful in the award’s 17-year history, with record numbers of both nominees and schools represented.

The 15 semifinalists for 2023, chosen from nominations submitted by CPS teachers and administrators, are listed below. Asterisks denote the educators who were chosen as finalists.

  • *Traci Cummings – Sands Montessori School
  • *Robin Day – Winton Hills Academy
  • John Crawford – Rees E. Price Academy
  • Annie Ashcraft – Silverton Academy
  • Leslie Lyles – Bond Hill Academy
  • Shanina Lige – Covedale School
  • *Antonio Smith – Ethel M. Taylor Academy
  • Abigail Weitzel – Fairview Clifton German Language School
  • Diane Washington-Turner – Fairview Clifton German Language School
  • Jason Banks – James N. Gamble Montessori High School
  • Joe Seiler – Mt. Airy School
  • Paulette Simpson – North Avondale Montessori School
  • *Brad Gerard – School for Creative and Performing Arts
  • Joseph Gerth – Walnut Hills High School
  • *Mary Webb – Withrow University High School

"Our District is filled with great educators who are vital to the work we are doing to improve outcomes for students. So many educators go above and beyond the call of duty to serve our students, and I am thrilled to see some of those individuals recognized for their exceptional commitment," said Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Iranetta Rayborn Wright. "We are grateful for our long standing partnership with Western & Southern, which remains strong with a record number of nominations this year."

The 2023 award recipient will be announced May 9 at a ceremony and reception hosted by Western & Southern at the Guilford Building in downtown Cincinnati during Teacher Appreciation Week. The award winner will receive a personal check for $10,000 from Western & Southern.

“The Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award is a living tribute to a great man and a wonderful way for us to recognize and reward these educators for their commitment to inspiring Cincinnati’s children to excel,” said John F. Barrett, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Western & Southern.

Western & Southern’s inspiration for establishing the award in 2007 was Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins, a renowned educator in Cincinnati who served as a distinguished member of the Western & Southern board of directors for many years. Hawkins, a member of the elite Tuskegee Airmen, earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cincinnati, as well as a doctorate in education. He worked as both an educator and administrator at CPS before joining the University of Cincinnati faculty where he founded the College of Community Affairs. He was promoted to vice president of continuing education and metropolitan affairs and then again to executive vice president of administration. Hawkins served on several local community and business boards, and was named a Great Living Cincinnatian in 1989 by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about past recipients, click here.


About Cincinnati Public Schools

The Cincinnati City School District, also known as Cincinnati Public Schools serves about 36,000 students in over 65 schools spread across southwest Ohio. CPS is Greater Cincinnati's largest, and Ohio's second largest school district. CPS offers families high-quality educational choices and a variety of academic programs. With a focus on Academics, Behavior and Culture, CPS is committed to developing the whole child, ensuring students thrive and graduate prepared to enroll in college, enlist in the military or become gainfully employed. For more information visit www.cps-k12.org.