The Distinguished Lasallian Educator is expected to uphold the Lasallian tradition of excellence in teaching, respect for individual dignity, and commitment to social justice, which includes a belief in the inherent dignity of the human person. Based on these criteria, our Distinguished Lasallian Educator for 2007-2008 is deserving of the honor. Dr. Shawn Ladda, the Distinguished Lasallian Educator for 2007-2008, is a remarkable educator and woman. She is an enormously giving individual who genuinely cares about each person with whom she comes in contact. A positive, can-do attitude permeates all aspects of her day-to-day contacts. This commitment to being fully present makes her a wonderful teacher, colleague, mentor, administrator and friend. She is focused on what needs to be done and brings one hundred percent to everything she is doing. She lives her life by using her seemingly unlimited energy to inspire everything and everyone around her. She has an uncanny ability to identify what each individual needs to get them from where she engages with them to where they need to be; this is especially true with her students. She accepts people for who they are. She in interested in each person she meets, and makes him or her feel like he or she is exactly the person she wanted to see.
Another characteristic is her joy for life. Shawn, at her core, has a child-like joy in life, an unreserved acceptance of each individual, a belief in the potential of people. An individual e-mailed a story to me about Shawn and ended by saying, “We had a good laugh that morning; she made my day.” At first I wasn’t sure about how that story fit and that I realized it showed how Shawn had shared her joy and made the other person feel the same sense of joy. I went back to the individual to see if my interpretation was accurate and she said, “That’s it!” This core of child-like enthusiasm for life and for engaging people is surrounded by a sense of maturity and responsibility, the ability to understand and function within a system while seeing alternatives and exploring unique approaches to challenging opportunities. Whether she is working to update the curriculum in her department, or preparing documents for the State Education Department or the national accreditation team, Shawn in thorough and creative in her approach. Her commitment to her students and faculty is inspiring. As one colleague said, “She goes the extra mile for the students; she is very student centered; she finds creative ways to help her students become successful.” She has this same commitment to her faculty and, in fact, to everyone she meets.
“Door to door,” when she joins you on a journey, whether it is as a teacher, colleague or friend, she won’t stop until you reach the goal. She won’t be distracted, but remains with you for the entire trip.
Shawn is an excellent teacher who is concerned about the dignity of everyone she comes in contact with, and a most worthy recipient of the 2007-2008 Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award.