"We have always been inspired by Mark's love of his students, care of his colleagues, and his leadership of our school, and it will be a tremendous joy to celebrate this award with Mark and his family!" Jason Curtis, Principal
Cardinal Gibbons theology educator Mark DeLaRosa received a big surprise today (March 10). At 10:45 a.m. an official from the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh and fellow educators surprised Mr. DeLaRosa in his fourth period freshman theology class to announce that he is the 2017 recipient of the Monsignor Gerald L. Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching. After hearing the announcement students cheered and Mr. DeLaRosa, choking back tears of joy and feeling overcome with emotion, hugged his wife Carol, who carrying a bouquet of balloons, joined in the surprise.
"Thank you," Mr. DeLaRosa said to his students and colleagues gathered in Room 115. "I love my classes, all of them. I love being here at Gibbons. I love teaching."
Mr. DeLaRosa, who is known among his students as Mr. D, is the first theology educator to receive the award, which was initiated in 1992 to honor outstanding educators in Catholic schools of the Diocese of Raleigh. He has been an educator in the theology department at Gibbons for the last 12 years and an educator in the Diocese for 15 years.
Mr. DeLaRosa, who holds a master's in theology from Duke University, is involved in many, many activities at Gibbons, including being a moderator of Franciscan Youth International or FYI. He is also a frequent educator leader at many of the school-sponsored retreats, he participates in our choir at all-school Masses and is active with a student music ministry. Indeed, he can be spotted playing the guitar at Mass in the school chapel every Thursday with the all-volunteer student music group.
Mr. DeLaRosa is the fourth Gibbons educator to receive the award. He joins colleagues, Rebecca Dason, chair of the Fine Arts Department; Susan Goethals, Science educator, and Joan Troy, chair of the math department.
According to information from the Diocese the two most important qualities a candidate should possess are the ability to form positive relationships and to inspire students to learn... DeLaRosa has those qualities and more, colleagues and students alike said. Asked what she thought of Mr. DeLaRosa receiving the award freshman Gabriella Ercolino said, "it is very suiting. Mr. DeLaRosa does so much for the school. He deserves it." In his classroom, she added, "everyone is loved."
Principal Jason Curtis added: "We are so excited for Mr. DeLaRosa, and are grateful to the Diocese of Raleigh and Lewis Award Committee for recognizing his outstanding commitment to Catholic education. We have always been inspired by his love of his students, care of his colleagues, and his leadership of our school, and it will be a tremendous joy to celebrate this award with Mark and his family!"
After all the excitement faded, it was time to start class. Not to break tradition, Mr. DeLaRosa began his class with a group prayer, with all students and educators present locking arms. One by one each person in the circle said they were thankful that Mr. DeLaRosa was their teacher, their colleague, their friend.