Director of Education’s Inspiration Award 2014
In June 2013, the Director’s Inspiration Award was launched.
This award is 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 Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Holy Name Catholic Elementary School Principal Terry Antoniou is a shining example of faith, acceptance and inspiration to her students, staff and colleagues.
Terry’s life changed in the blink of an eye when a fall down the stairs left her unable to walk. After a series of surgeries in the days after her accident, doctors prepared Terry for the possibility she would never walk – or work – again. Unwilling to accept that grim prognosis, Terry put her faith in God and began her journey to recovery. Six months after her accident, Terry is back at Holy Name and is able to walk with the assistance of canes.
Terry’s determination to overcome adversity; and her continued commitment to her faith and her vocation make her a worthy recipient of the Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Joseph Castellan has been a teacher with Niagara Catholic for 15 years – 14 of them at Father Hennepin Catholic Elementary School.
Joseph is a favourite among students, who appreciate the countless hours he contributes to their academic, artistic and athletic gifts. He is an example to students and staff of the power of giving, by volunteering his time and talents to a variety of charities and fundraisers for individuals in the community.
Joseph’s example of servant leadership makes him a worthy recipient of the Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Paul Cianflone has spent his entire two-decade teaching career at Saint Michael Catholic High School. Throughout that time, he has helped shape many young lives.
Paul contributes hours of his personal time to ensure students are well-prepared for the local, provincial and national skills competitions. He is eager to share his knowledge and experience about career pathways and spends time with students, listening to their needs and dreams, to guide them on their journey.
Paul’s ongoing commitment to guiding students in life, education and the ways of the Lord, makes him a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Mark Cicchino has a special gift of connecting what he does in the classroom to what his students need in their immediate lives, and what they may need in the future. There is a beauty in the simplicity of his teaching style. He makes a personal connection with each and every student and is an inspiration to his colleagues.
Mark looks for new ways to approach new concepts and is eager to pass on his enthusiasm for learning to students.
Mark’s energy, enthusiasm and excitement about teaching and learning make him a worthy recipient of the 2014 Director of Education’s Inspiration Award.
Melanie Contini devotes hours of her time fostering a love of the arts among her students.
As a drama teacher and Program Chair of the Arts at Denis Morris Catholic High School, Melanie helps students unlock their hidden gifts and talents on the stage, and encourages them to participate in the school’s musical and dramatic productions.
Melanie’s passion to share her love of the theatre with budding young thespians and her willingness to volunteer hours of her time after school for rehearsals make her a worthy recipient of the 2014 Director of Education’s Inspiration Award.
Dave Drago is a living example of what it means to love through service. He is committed to helping students thrive and become the best they can be, and reaches out to all students with caring and compassion.
Dave has been an integral part of the Denis Morris Catholic High School Pilgrimage for nearly all of his 30-year teaching career. When the Pilgrimage is over, he immediately turns his attention to the annual Starve-a-thon in the spring. His commitment to these very important social justice activities is a testament to his desire to live the Gospel values.
Dave’s outstanding commitment to the Denis Morris community makes him a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Holly MacDonald has spent nearly a quarter-century working as an Educational Resource Teacher with students at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Elementary School.
Holly is known as a person all members of the Our Lady of Victory family – students, staff and parents – can go to in order to seek quiet counsel. She is also one of the most vocal champions for families in the community and does not rest until she has found them the support and resources they need.
Holly’s passionate advocacy for those who are marginalized in the community and her unfailing desire to help those in need make her a worthy candidate of Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Kelly Majka knows that good leaders allow the individuals they work with to bring their unique skills and expertise to the team.
A Resource Teacher at Saint Paul Catholic High School, Kelly believes the quality of life of special needs students should be no different than that of other students in the school, and bridges the gap to integrate special needs students into the school community.
Kelly’s dedication to her students and her desire to help others make her a worthy candidate of Director of Education’s 2013-2014 Inspiration Award.
Melissa Maney Worden
Melissa Maney Worden has spent her entire 17-year teaching career at St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School.
She is an enthusiastic organizer at the school, leading the school’s Breakfast Club, co-ordinating family nights, social justice initiatives for home and abroad and Catholic Education Week activities. Melissa also applies for a number of grants to benefit the students and staff at St. Alfred.
Melissa’s outstanding commitment to all aspects of life at St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School makes her a worthy recipient of the Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Maria Orrico-Gamble demonstrates passionate, innovative and extraordinary contributions to Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School and the broader Niagara Catholic community.
As the creator of the school’s graphic design and photography course and the Program Chair of Business and Technology, Maria strives to find new and innovative techniques to teach to a diverse group of students. To foster the talents of students interested in the field of video production, Maria created Rolling Thunder Productions, and an after-school media club. She is an advocate for students, helping many secure scholarships and other prestigious awards.
Maria’s leadership and commitment to student success make her a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Teresa Paonessa is the heart and soul of St. Andrew Catholic Elementary School. She has been the custodian and caretaker at the school for three years, and goes far above and beyond the everyday tasks of keeping the school safe and clean.
She instinctively knows when someone needs a smile, hug or a snack. She wakes up early in the morning to bake treats for students and staff, and makes hot lunches for the entire school community. During the summer, Teresa played a key role in ensuring that the school’s new “localove” community garden flourished.
Teresa’s kind heart, gentle soul and strength of character make her a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Working with teenagers can be challenging. Bridgette Ridley takes it a step further, working with disengaged secondary school students, helping them create and maintain an alternative learning plan so they can successfully complete high school.
Bridgette is an Attendance Officer with the Board’s Supervised Alternative Learning Program. She brings a positive attitude to her job, treats each student with care and respect and often goes a step further; providing students with food, clothing and other basic needs to ensure that they are safe and know they are loved.
Bridgette’s outstanding commitment to at-risk students makes her a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Adriana Rombough, an Educational Assistant at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Elementary School, consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty. She is compassionate, a woman of action and an example of faith and deed.
Adriana leads by example, demonstrating for students the power of compassion and love and reminds students and staff that in reaching out to those less fortunate than ourselves, individuals with broken spirits who feel marginalized and are vulnerable, we are reaching out to Christ in disguise.
Adriana’s patience, kindness and compassion for all students and staff at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Elementary School make her a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Maria Ruggi is a Educational Resource Teacher at Mary Ward Catholic Elementary School in Niagara Falls.
Maria has had a difficult journey in the past few years, as her son Matteo battled cancer. Although he succumbed to the disease, Maria’s spirit stayed strong and she is living proof that it is possible to continue to live, work and love others, even after suffering the loss of a loved one.
Maria’s unwavering faith, selflessness and resilience in the face of adversity make her a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Matthew Saranchuk has been an Educational Assistant with Niagara Catholic for 19 years, and has spent 12 of them at St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School.
Matthew is gentle, non-judgmental, selfless, confident, dependable, compassionate, quietly dedicated and unfailingly committed to the special needs students he serves. He tends to the flower and vegetable gardens and participates in school and community events out of a love of service, not a sense of obligation.
Matthew’s calmness, positivity and willingness to go above and beyond to make the St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School better place make him a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Eva Schertzing has a loving nature, positive outlook and always finds the good in a person.
As an Educational Assistant at St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School for the past three years, Eva has created a homework program for students and organizes the school’s rosary circle.
Eva’s faith and compassion make her an inspiration to others and a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2014 Inspiration Award.
Richard Spencer has been an English teacher at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School for more than 27 years.
Richard assists students in producing the Holy Cross newspaper, The Cross Examiner and coaches the Reach team, projects he takes on gladly, despite the challenge of living with low vision.
Richard’s enthusiasm for literature, and his desire to foster a love of reading and writing with his students, make him a worthy recipient of a Director of Education’s 2013-2014 Inspiration Award.