Director of Education’s Inspiration Award 2013
In June 2013, the “Director’s Inspiration Award was launched.
This new award will be presented annually to exemplary Niagara Catholic employees who embody the Mission, Vision and Values of our system, our vocation and our call to serve students, colleagues and our community.
The Inspiration Award is presented in recognition of faithful, passionate, innovative and extraordinary contributions to Niagara Catholic.
A nomination, endorsed by the nominee’s direct supervisor, is required for the consideration of the Director of Education’s Inspiration Award. Nominations are reviewed by a Selection Committee made up of members of Senior Staff, with the final selection being made by the Director of Education.
Congratulations to the recipients of the inaugural Director’s Inspiration Award.
Teacher – Saint Michael Catholic High School
Vince Baldassarro has been a teacher with Niagara Catholic for more than two decades, on both the elementary and secondary panels. He is currently an Educational Resource Teacher at Saint Michael Catholic High School, where he has a profound impact on students, whether it is by spending his lunches with Special Education students, tutoring, or inspiring the next generation of leaders. He is also a coach dedicated to his student athletes.
In 2011, Vince was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He faced this challenge by learning as much about his illness as possible, and maintained a positive outlook throughout his treatment. Vince returned to Saint Michael in February 2013 and his return to health also meant his return to coaching. He is an extraordinary teacher and mentor who continues to shepherd students and staff at Saint Michael Catholic High School through his commitment and courage.
Teacher – Saint Michael Catholic High School
Amber Benoit is a committed and dedicated teacher, who has fostered Catholic teachings through her efforts toward social justice.
A teacher at Saint Michael Catholic High School, she is dedicated to creating unique educational experiences outside of the classroom as a staff leader for the Niagara Catholic International Co-operative Experience in Dominica. Her caring attitude toward students and the Dominican people they serve makes her an outstanding example of the very best in Catholic education, and a worthy recipient of the inaugural Director’s Inspiration Award.
Teacher – Lakeshore Catholic High School
Jason Benoit is a committed and dedicated teacher, who has fostered Catholic teachings through his efforts toward social justice.
A teacher at Lakeshore Catholic High School, he is dedicated to creating unique educational experiences outside of the classroom as a staff leader for the Niagara Catholic International Co-operative Experience in Dominica. His caring attitude toward the students and the Dominican people they serve makes him an outstanding example of the very best in Catholic education, and a worthy recipient of the inaugural Director’s Inspiration Award.
Educational Assistant – Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School
Percy Chung, an Educational Assistant at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School is described by his colleagues as “caring, loving and compassionate; kind and gentle; infused with enthusiasm and positive energy; a gift.”
Percy treats each and every individual with dignity and respect and finds ways to break down barriers for students. Following in the footsteps of Christ, he serves the needs of those who need him the most and receives great joy and satisfaction from making others happy and has embraced every aspect of school life by investing his time bonding with students.
Teacher – Our Lady of Victory Catholic Elementary School
Adriana Cottringer arrived in Canada as a young girl, unable to speak the language of her new home. Like many students, she participated in English as a Second Language before she was able to proficiently study in English.
That experience left a profound mark on Adriana, who teaches at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Elementary School in Fort Erie. The school has a large population of newcomers and Adriana’s personal experience has made her a passionate advocate for all students at Our Lady of Victory who struggle to find their place. She is deeply involved in the newcomer community, working with agencies and organizations to assist families as they adapt to their new lives.
Adriana is the lead teacher for the healthy snack program at Our Lady of Victory, arriving well before the school day starts to prepare 21 baskets of food – one for each classroom – and often is found in the kitchen, slicing vegetables, toasting bread and making sandwiches for those who need it throughout the day.
Educational Resource Teacher – Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School (Posthumous)
Those who knew Bridgid Davidson describe her as “remarkable,” “devoted” and “a ray of sunshine,” in each and every Niagara Catholic school where she worked as an Educational Resource Teacher.
Twenty-four individuals nominated Bridgid for the Director’s Inspiration Award for the way she inspired people she met wherever she went.
Bridgid motivated students to do their best every day, and to follow the teachings of Christ. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she continued to inspire others by her positive outlook on life and her strong faith. It was during this time that Bridgid heard about Mary’s Meals International, a charitable organization which provides students in developing nations with one healthy meal a day while they are at school. Bridgid was determined to use the time she had left to bring Mary’s Meals to Canada, a goal she successfully completed before she passed away in June at the age of 54. Niagara Catholic will honour Bridgid’s memory by holding an Oatmeal Day fundraiser for Mary’s Meals during Random Act of Kindness Day in Niagara on November 1st.
Head Caretaker, Saint Michael Catholic High School
Frank’s sense of humour and work ethic has made him a beloved staff member at Saint Michael Catholic High School, where he is Head Caretaker.
He is a dedicated employee, with a sense of duty and a strong work ethic, that are witnessed and appreciated by his peers daily.
Frank displays a genuine interest in all Saint Michael students and is often found counselling them on how to live life as a positive contributor to society. He frequently buys lunch for students who struggle financially and has used his community contacts to help students find part-time jobs. Frank advocates for students with teachers and administrators, often making them aware of the student’s situations at home. These things are done quietly, and are only brought to the attention of others when students share that information with administrators.
The Saint Michael community is a richer environment because of Frank Ferraro.
Teacher/Program Chair – Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School
Antonio Gambale is known as a “go-to” teacher at Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School in Grimsby. Parents, past and current students and co-workers credit his extraordinary rapport with students, the many ways in which he has helped students through difficult times and inspired them to strive for their personal best.
Antonio’s example to students extends far beyond the classroom – he is active in his parish church, St. Joseph, where he assists in baptisms and is a reader at Sunday mass services.
As the Program Chair of Canadian and World Studies and Social Science, Antonio strives to make lessons relevant to students. He has a keen interest in social justice and is staff leader for the Annual Pilgrimage, and is actively involved in various Ministry initiatives, including the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative and the Facing History Conference.
Teacher – St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School
Carol Hogan-Magazzeni, a teacher at St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School in St. Catharines, is a leader of the school’s breakfast, hot lunch and healthy snack programs.
Carol is frequently found in stores buying additional groceries beyond what the community agencies and members provide. At recesses, before school and after school Carol prepares food to be delivered to 25 classes.
Carol’s leadership is an example to students and staff.
Teacher – St. Denis Catholic Elementary School
Stephanie MacSporran’s mission in life is to inspire her students. Her enthusiasm for learning is infectious, and she inspires all around her to challenge themselves to do great things.
She is active in the school as a coach of several teams, and also helps organize Area and Board-wide tournaments. She is also giving of her time and knowledge with colleagues, sharing new ideas and information and offering a helping hand wherever one is needed.
Stephanie is truly a leader in Catholic education.
Teacher – St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School
Franca Magaro, a teacher at St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School in St. Catharines, is a leader of the school’s breakfast, hot lunch and healthy snack programs.
Franca is frequently found in stores buying additional groceries beyond what the community agencies and members provide. At recesses, before school and after school Franca prepares food to be delivered to 25 classes.
Franca’s leadership is an example to students and staff.
Coordinator Student Success , Catholic Education Centre
Marco Magazzeni brings his passion and enthusiasm for a career in the skilled trades to life for thousands of Niagara Catholic students every day. He is committed to guiding students to follow their own dreams of a career in the trades and is relentless in his search for opportunities within the community which provide valuable partnerships for our students.
As a result of Marco’s tireless efforts, our students are able to move on to the next stage of their lives fully prepared for the demands of an apprenticeship or the world of work. It is also due in large part Marco’s outstanding efforts that Niagara Catholic has twice been recognized with an Global Best Award for our partnerships in the community which so richly benefit the students we serve.
Secretary – Holy Name Catholic Elementary School
The students and staff at Holy Name Catholic Elementary School are blessed by their “Inspirational Ambassador,” Tonia Orlando. In addition to her role as school secretary, Tonia is actively involved in school life as a volunteer with school community co-curricular events, hot lunches, school barbecues and helping fundraise toward building a school in Guatemala. She has even recruited her family to assist in all of these endeavours.
Tonia is described by students and staff as an “Earth Angel,” who “shares her inspirational, Christ-centered light in a professional, caring and dedicated manner to each and every person she meets.”
Chaplaincy Leader – Denis Morris Catholic High School
As Chaplaincy Leader at Denis Morris Catholic High School, Denise Pizzino-Prieur works tirelessly for students, frequently putting their needs ahead of her own. She has a spirit of selfless giving and is a champion of the underdog.
Denise is dedicated to the vulnerable segments in our community, as a member on the Special Education Advisory Committee and the Learning Disabilities Organization of Niagara.
Denise epitomizes a ministry of service in her personal life as well. She is involved in Start Me Up Niagara and Community Care in St. Catharines, and is a longtime volunteer with the city’s Out of the Cold Program. She has dedicated time to the Palliative Care Unit at St. Peter’s Hospital in Hamilton, helping the families of terminally ill patients prepare for their loved ones’ final journey and strives to lift the spirits of those around her.
Administrator of Staff Development/Secondary Principal – Catholic Education Centre
Khayyam Syne, who retired from Niagara Catholic in August, was a dedicated Catholic educator for 37 years, working in both the elementary and secondary panels.
He was later called to serve as an administrator at the Catholic Education Centre, and spent the final years of his career in Catholic education overseeing professional development. In this capacity, Khayyam challenged staff thinking about Catholic education and was responsible for organizing many staff development events. His innovative approach introduced Niagara Catholic to leading-edge presenters with the singular goal of enhancing student achievement. He has fostered relationships through which Niagara Catholic will benefit for years to come.
Secretary – Canadian Martyrs Catholic Elementary School
Jessie Thompson not only believes in Mother Teresa’s message to do small things with great love, she lives that each and every day.
Jessie’s job description is that of school secretary, but to the many people who come into contact with her at Canadian Martyrs Catholic Elementary School every day, she is much more. According to the staff who nominated her, Jessie “exudes goodness, love and charity,” and makes people want to be a better just by being in her presence.
Jessie always has a word of encouragement for students and staff who are having a difficult day. She is a regular presence at events on evenings and weekends, to support her school family.
Teacher – Notre Dame College School
In December, 2011, Tina Turner should have been enjoying Christmas with her family. Instead, she was planning her daughter Julia’s funeral, after the 15-year-old Notre Dame College School student succumbed to cancer.
This profound loss did not shake Tina’s faith. Rather, inspired to honour her daughter’s memory, Tina continued her Christian service to the community through her volunteer work at the Out of the Cold kitchen at St. Kevin Church and at The Hope Centre, which she and her husband developed to support individuals and families living in poverty.
In addition to serving people in the community, Tina supports students at Notre Dame College School where she is praised for her “dedication, innovation and compassion.” She is active in the school’s Pilgrimage and has travelled to Peru and the Dominican Republic to see first-hand how the pledge money raised by students has benefitted these communities.
Tina is passionate about Catholic education, and, as a result, her students are continually engaged and interested in their faith development.