Celina Gomez wins Horizons National Lyn McNaught Award for Teaching Excellence

Talented, passionate educators form the backbone of the Horizons affiliate network across the country. Many talented educators work with Horizons affiliates across the country. Through the years, Horizons at Colorado Academy has had many dedicated, passionate teachers on our staff, and many have come back summer after summer to work with our students. Since 2004, Horizons National has selected a handful of teachers in the Horizons network to receive the Lyn McNaught Teaching Award. The award, named for Horizons at New Canaan’s longtime executive director, recognizes outstanding, creative teachers who serve as role models for students, while encouraging the potential of each child and fostering a lifelong love of learning. Each year, just three teachers receive this prestigious award, and I am excited to share that our phenomenal reading specialist, Celina Gomez, is one of the award recipients for 2021.

Celina Gomez works with student on reading (photo taken pre-pandemic)

Celina is a valued and beloved member of the Horizons at Colorado Academy family. As an exemplary professional with more than 30 years of teaching experience in Colorado Title I schools, Celina is a firm believer that all students, regardless of the obstacles and challenges they might face, have incredible potential to reach their goals. All that is needed is guidance, kindness, and a way to make learning fun! As a reading specialist for the past 12 years, Celina has fostered a love of learning with her students, empowering them with self-confidence, so that they can improve their reading skills, and over time, embrace reading on their own.

Celina works with students (photo taken pre-pandemic)

Celina has had a tremendous impact on her Horizons at CA students, as well as faculty. As a reading specialist with a focus on our Pre-K through Grade 4 students, Celina’s approach is tailored to the individual needs of each student. This past summer, amidst the pandemic, Celina was able to provide much needed support to students both online and in person. As the Executive Director, I have been fortunate to see Celina’s approach to teaching reading in person, and I was blown away. Celina’s students were moving their bodies, singing, dancing, sounding out words, and learning in a way that was truly engaging. With lots of positive reinforcement and encouragement, the students’ joy was palpable.

Well-respected among her colleagues, Celina is the embodiment of patience and an excellent resource for younger teachers to learn from and consult with. Each summer, Celina has an intern work with her. This past summer, Celina’s intern was a Horizons and Colorado Academy alumna who had just completed her first year as a college freshman, Yatzari Venzor ‘19. Under Celina’s guidance, Yatzari learned how to teach students to read, the techniques and pedagogy behind reading, and how to motivate students, so that they develop a love of reading on their own.

If you would like to see Celina receive her award and learn more about the incredible work that Horizons affiliates are doing across the country, you can tune into the virtual award presentation on Friday, February 12, from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. MST. Please contact me directly for the Zoom link.

On behalf of the Horizons at Colorado Academy family: Congratulations, Celina!