AHA Teacher Named Educator of the Year by Operation Smile

August 2014

Academy of the Holy Angels teacher Mrs. Laura Kraytem was named  Educator of the Year by Operation Smile during the 24th Annual Operation Smile International Student Leadership Conference held this year in Limerick, Ireland. Operation Smile, which was co-founded by Kathleen S. Magee, alumna of Holy Angels, provides corrective surgeries at no cost to children all over the developing world who are born with cleft lip and other types of facial deformities. Since its foundation in 1982, Operation Smile volunteer professionals have treated over 222,000 patients, making it one of the most successful medical charities in the world. This year’s conference took place from July 13-20 at the University of Limerick and was attended by over 550 high school and college students from over 20 different countries who participated in educational and leadership workshops designed to prepare them for their own volunteer missions. 

Immediately following her participation at the conference in Limerick, Laura traveled to Malawi where she spent two weeks at an Operation Smile mission working as a Student Sponsor and educator. She described her primary role there as educational. “So many children are burned by the fires used to cook. We teach them what to do with a burn, and how to prevent them and what to do to treat dehydration. This kind of education is truly lifesaving. We touched over 144 lives in two weeks!” 

Mrs. Kraytem is the moderator of AHA’s Operation Smile Club which has over 150 members, many of whom have traveled on mission trips around the world. Last year she served as a Student Sponsor on a mission to Jordon which inspired her to become even more involved.  “I saw my students transformed on so many levels that I wanted to offer them more opportunities for involvement beyond their club meetings at school.” She began attending NJ Regional Operation Smile meetings with her students and helped to organize the first “Rock The Smile, Battle of the DJ’s” event in Newark. Reflecting on the honor of receiving this award she noted, “I was touched by the award because it meant Operation Smile recognized my passion for supporting my students to do great things...I know that if I can lift their awareness level to action and tie action to moral responsibility the world will be a better place. This is the gift AHA gave to me and now I want to give to them.”

Laura Kraytem Operation Smile

Laura Kraytem is pictured on the right along with AHA Senior Ruby Kang who attended the conference and will serve as the club’s vice president and will be going on a mission trip to Vietnam this coming year.

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