Return to Headlines

CPS, Western & Southern Financial Group Name Finalists for 18th Annual Educator of the Year Award

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) and Western & Southern Financial Group named the top five finalists for the 2024 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.

A selection committee from CPS and Western & Southern chose five finalists from 15 semifinalists.

The 2024 Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award 5 Finalists:  

  • Susan Grasso: Hughes STEM High School, Information Technology - Career and Technical Education (CTE), Grades 9-12
  • Sarah Sifri: Winton Hills Academy, Multi-Subject Teacher, Grade 2
  • Aaron Parker: Aiken High School, Agriculture- Career and Technical Education (CTE), Grades 9-12
  • Ariel Crump: Pleasant Ridge Montessori School, Multi-Subject Teacher, Grades 1-3
  • Deidre Simpson: Evanston Academy, English Language Arts Teacher, Grade 6

The 2024 award recipient will be announced May 16 at a ceremony and reception hosted by Western & Southern at the Guilford Building (421 East Fourth Street) in downtown Cincinnati. The award winner will receive a personal check for $10,000 from Western & Southern.


Western & Southern Financial Group, in partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), is excited to announce 15 semifinalists for the 2024 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.

Semifinalists for 2024, chosen from nominations submitted by CPS teachers and administrators, are:

  • Jude Anderson - Mt. Airy School
  • Lynn Collins - Frederick Douglass School
  • Ariel Crump - Pleasant Ridge Montessori School
  • Doreena Fox - Walnut Hills High School
  • Susan Grasso - Hughes STEM High School
  • Tracy Greely Howard - Hughes STEM High School
  • Jaton Kershaw - Woodford Academy
  • Katrina Kunze - AMIS (Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies)
  • Karen Lewis - William H. Taft School
  • Jerry M. Moore - Roberts Academy
  • Suzanne Nall - Mt. Washington School
  • Aaron Parker - Aiken New Tech High School
  • Nicholas Pavely - Hughes STEM High School
  • Sarah Sifri - Winton Hills Academy
  • Deidre Simpson - Evanston Academy

"I am proud of the great educators in our District who are vital to the work we are doing at Cincinnati Public Schools to improve outcomes for students. Our educators go above and beyond every day to serve our students, and I'm excited to see some of those individuals recognized for their exceptional commitment," Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent and CEO Iranetta Rayborn Wright said. "We are grateful for our partnership with Western & Southern and their commitment to honoring Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins and our educators."

From the group of 15 semifinalists, five will be selected as finalists later this month. The 2024 award recipient will be announced May 16 at a ceremony and reception hosted by Western & Southern at the Guilford Building (421 East Fourth Street) in downtown Cincinnati. 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.