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Little Flower’s superhero teacher

Laura Stankiewicz (second row, third from left) with her honors Spanish 4 students
Laura Stankiewicz (second row, third from left) with her honors Spanish 4 students
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Plenty of good things are happening in Room 165 at Little Flower High School.

That’s the room where Laura Stankiewicz teaches Spanish 1, 3 and 4.

So when religion teacher Maureen Gillespie, also a Phillies employee, told the LF community that the team was looking for nominations for Teacher of the Year, a group of students went to work nominating their favorite teacher.

Students see “Ms. Stank” as more than a Spanish teacher.

She’s moderator of the Community Service Corps, which performs tasks such as providing for the needy at Thanksgiving and serving food to the homeless at St. Francis Inn in Kensington. She organized Friday’s Mother/Daughter Dance. And she started a scholarship in memory of a student who died in 2015, with funds going to students struggling financially.

In the nomination, written by Ashanty Lopez with contributions from others, Stankiewicz was described as dedicated, compassionate, loving and caring.

“Ms. Stankiewicz is everyone’s superhero here at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls,” the nomination read.

Another portion read, “She expects nothing in return except for the pure happiness of everyone she is in contact with.”

And, “She even stays after school until it is closed to allow her students to stay in her classroom to catch up on work or just talk to her.”

The Phillies were impressed, naming her one of 10 Teachers of the Year.

Stankiewicz, who has taught at Little Flower for 15 years and was named the school’s Teacher of the Year a decade ago, was overwhelmed with the nomination and award.

“I love this school,” she said. “These kids are why I get up in the morning.”

A Hallahan graduate and Port Richmond resident, Stankiewicz was featured Friday as part of “Kelly’s Classroom” on Good Day Philadelphia. The school also held a pep rally in her honor. She was scheduled to be honored at Citizens Bank Park Friday night, but rain postponed the game. She and the other winning teachers will now be recognized on the field on Aug. 20 as part of the Phillies’ 22nd annual Teacher Appreciation Day.

The postponement gave her more time to devote to making sure everything was ready for the Mother/Daughter Dance. The theme was You are My Sunshine, a song she and her late mom sang to each other.

Theresa “Dukes” Stankiewicz died suddenly in February, and this was her daughter’s first Mother’s Day without her.

Dukes loved attending the LF Mother/Daughter Dances and was a big Phillies fan. Her favorites were former manager Charlie Manuel and shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Ms. Stank planned to hold her mom’s Phillies sweatshirt on her arm at Friday’s ceremony, but that will have to wait until August.

Stankiewicz credits her mom with teaching her the importance of giving back. On Friday, students and staff wore blue Little Flower Forever T-shirts, and Stankiewicz’s had a picture of her mom on the back with the words, “This is the ripple effect of love.” Those were the words Stankiewicz used in her mom’s eulogy at St. Adalbert, and she said the ripple effect of love can be found every day at Little Flower.

Stankiewicz credits the school, along with patron St. Therese, with helping her cope with the death of her mother.

She said she couldn’t be where she is in her career without the examples set by her Hallahan teachers, especially Jennifer Hanley; the support of her husband, Michael Grover, and the Little Flower faculty and alumnae; and the kind, generous and appreciative girls she teaches. ••

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