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Meet the People of AOPS

3 months ago
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Hardworking faculty and staff make up the backbone of AOPS. We asked eight AOPS employees about their careers, challenges, and proudest moments. Here, they share their thoughts and stories.

 

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Annette Baird
Our Lady of Good Counsel School
First Grade Teacher

To teach fractions, I ordered pizza and had students cut it into halves, quarters, all the way to 24ths. When students come back from high school to visit, and they remember that activity they did in first grade, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me feel like I made an impression.

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Bryan Wilson
Pope John Paul II High School
Physical Education Teacher

When a new job opened up, a student I coached said I should apply. I said, “No, no, no.” But she encouraged me. So I applied. And I got hired. The fact that she encouraged me showed that students had confidence in me as a coach and a teacher. And that’s something that I don’t think would happen in any other school system.

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Ellie Luby
Bishop McDevitt High School
English Department Chair

I had a student who gave me a run for my money. I tried to reach out, but she wasn’t always agreeable and was going down some bad paths. Years later, I got a letter. She was recovering from some struggles, and she wanted to say she was sorry. Because I was one of the only people who never gave up on her, no matter how mean she was to me. That made me realize, you never know how a kind word or reaching out one more time can help somebody.

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Father Joseph Bongard
Roman Catholic High School
President

There’s a lot being said about young people today. But what I’ve found, in the midst of society being a mess, is that many students are making great choices. I’m becoming optimistic for the future because of these young people. I’m energized by their enthusiasm and hope for the future.

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Valerie DiGiacomo
Our Lady of Angels Regional School
Art Teacher

I lead a rosary project where students make paper beads. It’s beautiful but tedious. I wasn’t going to do the project again after the first year. But students really liked it. I realized they were getting a lot out of it. I adapted the lesson to talk about patience. A lot of things we do in life are tedious — it’s a life skill. And now, every year, younger students look forward to making the rosaries.

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Gregory Severino
Our Lady of Calvary School
Honors Math Teacher

I had a group of female students who approached the STEM fields with a bit of trepidation. But in the past two years, they have become true rocket scientists. Our all-girls rocket team won a state competition last year, and this year we’re involved in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. They’ve gone far above and beyond what they perceived was possible. I’ve very, very proud of them.

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Jenifer Nevins
St. Agnes School
Marketing Specialist

When I take parents around for a tour, their comment to me is always how happy our students look. That, I think, speaks volumes about our school and all the good work our administration and faculty are doing. I always love to hear that.

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Sheena Blackwell
West Catholic Preparatory High School
Admissions Director

Watching non-Catholic students respect and invest in their spirituality genuinely brings me happiness. I’m always happy about it. The students laugh at me, like, “Oh, you’re crazy.” But it’s a big thing. Kids who have probably never gone to church, and kids who have gone to church but don’t necessarily know what Catholic liturgy is — it’s amazing to watch them transition into it.