Caterina Honored with 2021 UNLV Teacher Recognition Award

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EV Thurgood, Features Editor

Jebette Caterina has been a teacher for 30 years and she currently teaches dual credit psychology, dual credit English composition, and seniors language and literature for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

This year Caterina was nominated and won the UNLV Teacher Recognition Award for the 2021-22 school year.

“Being recognized by UNLV meant nothing to me,” Caterina said. “It was being recognized by the student who told UNLV about me. A lot of awards are political, they are popularity contests, but what made this one different is that it came from a student who, in their busy busy first year, a freshman, took the time to write a letter and to make the application on my behalf and told the story and it just, it was very touching.”

Caterina became a teacher to help students, an area she is extremely passionate about.

“[My favorite part about teaching is to] see the transformation in young people,” Caterina said. “To help them find their voice, to help them to become stronger in knowing how wonderful they really are, to help them reach their potential and to help them find their inner strength, to be virtuous and to be honest, and to enjoy their life.”

Caterina made it clear that when it comes to teaching, her students are her focus and helping them succeed is what she strives to do.

“I love teenagers,” Caterina said. “I love helping kids, and every now and then I get to teach them something in English. Kids first. Kids always. Kids are the center of the conversation.”

Being in the business of education for decades gives Caterina a unique perspective on the long term effects of being a teacher and her continuous drive to guide kids is renewed by what she gets from mentoring her students.

“I have become a better person, a better mother,…a better daughter, a better sister,” Caterina said. “I have received, I think, so much more that I ever could give, and it was a gift that I truly believe that when you’re in the right place in the right time, and you have the right integrity, that you are receiving these joyous gifts that only young people can provide, and I appreciate teenagers because they’re right at that moment in their lives that they could go, you know, to the right or to the left, and then perhaps if I say something or I share something or we read something and take them to that point where they can just take off from there because they’ve been set free. That’s why I teach.”

Caterina had this message to all of the students in her classes:

“My students know that my two favorite words are veritas, which is Latin for truth, and integrity,” Caterina said. “And, to keep it simple, to remain true and free, you will find your way.”