A Westport teacher is getting the vacation of his dreams thanks to his work ethic and dedication.

Norwegian Cruise Line launched its Giving Joy teacher appreciation contest in May during Teacher Appreciation Week.

The contest highlights the importance of travel and education and recognizes educators such as Westport Middle-High School contest winner Richard Monast for their unwavering dedication to inspiring students daily.

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Monast, the media specialist at the school, was one of 100 educators across the United States and Canada who received the most votes for a free cruise for two on an exclusive five-day adventure on Norwegian Prima. He's the only Massachusetts teacher to win.

Monast was nominated by Westport Middle-High School alumna Jessica George, who wrote a beautiful letter that launched a voting campaign in which Monast received enough votes to qualify for the contest.

"It was honestly really amazing to hear, and what has meant the most is seeing the outpouring of support from former teachers, students, parents, and others who have supported me along the way," Monast said. "I wouldn’t be here without them. And I cannot thank Jessica George enough for her amazing nomination essay."

In George’s nomination letter, she described Monast as an “exemplar of exceptional teaching and going far beyond what is expected of him."

George added that Monast values acceptance and connection. She said these extend to his teaching and leadership in various clubs and activities.

George spoke highly of Monast as a teacher who “creates a learning environment where students can feel free to make mistakes, for they are signs of trying.”

All these kind words from George not only put Monast on the map to win the cruise but also to win money for his school.

During the October 2022 voyage departing from Galveston, Texas, a special ceremony will be held on board in which Monast, along with the 99 other winners, will have the chance to win grand prizes of $10,000, $15,000, or $25,000 for their schools.

By the end of 2022, the Norwegian Giving Joy organization intends to award 230 teachers across the United States and Canada free cruises and donate over $235,000 to schools.

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