Haverhill YMCA Honors Whittier Tech’s Grover as Educator of the Year

Former Northern Essex Vice President Paul Bevilacqua (left) was given the Volunteer of the Year award by Haverhill YMCA Board Member Kara Kosmes (right) on Tuesday. He was one of three award recipients that night. (Alex Guittarr photograph for WHAV News.)

Three people were recognized by the Haverhill YMCA for their contributions to education in the city.

On Tuesday, the Haverhill YMCA hosted their 10th annual Educator of the Year Award Ceremony & Recognition Event at Northern Essex Community College. The event saw former Northern Essex Vice President Paul Bevilacqua, Tilton School Principal Bonnie Antkowiak and Whittier Technical High School physical education teacher Roxanne Grover receive the Volunteer of the Year, Commitment to Community and Educator of the Year awards respectively.

Bevilacqua was introduced by Haverhill YMCA Board Member Kara Kosmes, who focused on Bevilacqua's time as an educator. A former history teacher in Salem, N.H., Bevilacqua joined the Northern Essex teaching staff in 1969, and retired from the community college in 2006 after a stint as the school’s vice president and dean of academic affairs. He’s also civic-minded, having participated in community groups including the Haverhill Democratic City Committee and Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame, among others.

Haverhill YMCA Board President and Pentucket Lake Elementary School Principal Dianne Connolly introduced Antkowiak with a slideshow describing her time as an educator. A 24-year veteran of the school system, she started as a substitute reading teacher at Fox School before becoming Tilton’s principal, a role she’s held for the last four years. Antkowiak—leading the charge to improve students’ MCAS scores and implement a two-year “turnaround grant” at Tilton—spoke of what education means to her, saying “I have come to learn that, no matter the school or location, families all want the same thing: the best for their students and it is our job to work with them to bring out the best in them.”

Grover was chosen from 15 other nominees for the Educator of the Year award and was introduced by the winner of last year’s award, Danielle Gregoire. Celebrating her 40th year as a city educator, Grover began her Whittier Tech tenure in 1978, teaching for, an ultimately heading up, the physical education and health department. Kelly Fay nominated Grover for the award. “Roxanne is a true team player and she is a valued member of our school community and the Haverhill community overall with her combination of intelligence, commitment, perseverance, creativity and compassion for everyone she encounters,” Fay said in her nomination.

Whittier Tech Superintendent Maureen A. Lynch and Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Marotta applauded Tuesday’s honorees for their work ethic and dedication. “Every day, these educators enter their classrooms eager to support and challenge all students. I am so pleased to be able to publicly recognize their commitment to the children and families of Haverhill,” Marotta said.