Catherine LeCleir-Salas: Excellence in K–12 Education as 2023 Hero Awards Finalist

In October, eSchool News announced the results of the 2023 K–12 Hero Awards. We are thrilled to announce that our 2023 K–12 Hero Award nomination for Catherine LeCleir-Salas at Cumberland County Public Schools has been selected as a finalist. Congratulations to Catherine LeCleir-Salas and Cumberland County Public Schools! We’re honored that the Hero Awards will showcase our nominee for the dedication and outstanding efforts that took place. Hero Awards Winners and Finalists are highlighted on and on the eSchool News podcast Innovations in Education, hosted by Kevin Hogan. A new compiled custom 2023 K–12 Hero Awards eBook will be available for download later this year from eSchool News.
The 2023 K–12 Hero Awards is a platform dedicated to recognizing and celebrating exceptional educators across the nation. Catherine LeCleir-Salas, an instructional specialist in the K–5 Exceptional Children's Department at Cumberland County Public Schools in North Carolina, has been selected as a finalist for this prestigious award as a testament to her dedication and remarkable efforts and those exhibited by the entire Cumberland County Public Schools community.

Dedication and Leadership

Catherine LeCleir-Salas is an exemplary educator whose unwavering commitment and tireless efforts have contributed significantly to the pursuit of educational excellence in her district. One of Catherine's significant contributions has been the implementation of the Science of Reading-based S.P.I.R.E. reading intervention program across all 51 schools within the Cumberland County district, benefitting more than 49,000 students.
What sets her approach apart is her strategic decision to empower teachers to choose the program that best suits their classrooms. This autonomy not only fostered buy-in but also generated enthusiasm that spread from educators to students. Grounded in the Orton-Gillingham methodology, the S.P.I.R.E. program aligns perfectly with the North Carolina Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021 and supports non-readers, struggling readers, and students with dyslexia.
2023 K–12 Hero Awards Finalist:
Catherine LeCleir-Salas
Instructional Specialist, K–5
Exceptional Children's Department
Cumberland County Public Schools

A Catalyst for Positive Change

As the district transitioned to this new program, Catherine undertook the task of rallying educators, caregivers, and students, creating a holistic environment where everyone could thrive. Her ability to anticipate the needs of her community and champion a reading program that truly makes a difference set her apart. "We believe every student can learn and succeed with the right instruction and environment," Catherine said. Her leadership, strategic thinking, and dedication have earned her the respect and admiration of educators, parents, and students alike.

Empowering Educators and Students

Catherine's commitment to professional development for educators led her to provide comprehensive in-person and virtual training for the S.P.I.R.E. implementation, ensuring that teachers were well-equipped to implement the program effectively. This approach yielded remarkable results, with a teacher participation rate ranging from 85% to 90% for multiple school years and students showing meaningful progress.

A Legacy of Excellence

As leaders and educators throughout Cumberland County Public Schools look to the future, Catherine's dynamic legacy as a trailblazing educator will undoubtedly continue to shape their progress. Her remarkable ability to turn challenges into opportunities, unite educators, and equip students with the tools they need to succeed is deserving of recognition.
We celebrate the successes already achieved in Cumberland County and look forward to more growth in the future. We are immensely grateful for the remarkable educators who go above and beyond to ensure that students can develop strong literacy skills and benefit from essential curriculum.

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