Nominated by their colleagues, eight faculty and staff members have been recognized for excellence in teaching and service, as well as for their professional development ambitions.
Every year, several faculty and staff members are recognized at a President's New Year assembly hosted by President Ann Marie Krejcarek. Gathered in the Little Theater on February 5, all Convent & Stuart Hall employees celebrated the Year of the Rat by honoring eight individuals with awards that support professional development or recognize outstanding contributions in the classroom and to the community. All the awards are supported by endowed gifts.
Following an opening reflection from former Niehaus Family President's Excellence Award winner, Amanda Walker, Dr. Krejcarek and the Faculty Staff Development Committee (FSDC) announced this year's recipients.
2020 Awards and Recipients
Sister Mary Mardel Fund
The Sister Mary Mardel Fund for Faculty Excellence was established in 1997 by gifts to an endowed fund, in honor of the beloved Sacred Heart educator. Each year, elementary faculty apply for the award in pursuit of a specific professional development opportunity or personal enrichment. With this award, Suzanne Miazga, Convent Elementary Art faculty, will travel first to Oregon, where she will attend a workshop to learn how to gather natural pigments and prepare them for use as paints. Then she will travel to Italy to paint and sketch the landscape of her ancestral heritage while also visiting shops and artists whose use of historical mineral pigments has inspired her artistic style. "Like an archeologist," she says, "my paintings search for what has been buried in the past."
Sister Ann Conroy Award
The Sister Ann Conroy Fund for Faculty Excellence was established in 2013 in honor of another longtime Sacred Heart educator. This award application process is open to all high school faculty and Central Services staff for pursuits of personal enrichment. This year's award recipient is Accounts Payable Specialist Rena Franco, who plans to visit the SHIFT Foundation, a non-profit run by Religious of the Sacred Heart in Northern Samar, Philippines. By engaging with the organization, which, through its ministries and organic farm serves the people of one of the poorest provinces in the country, Rena will honor her Filipino heritage by "helping [her countrymen] in a significant way other than just collecting and sending donations," she wrote in her proposal.
Esther Rossi Excellence Award
The Esther Rossi Excellence Award is given each year to an employee of the school who has made outstanding contributions to our tradition of excellence, focused particularly on Goal 4 of the Goals and Criteria: the building of community as a Christian value. The award was established and continues to grow thanks to the support of members of the Rossi family, in honor of their beloved mother, grandmother, aunt and grand-aunt. She was a devoted alumna of the San Francisco College for Women at Lone Mountain, which was founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart. This year's award recipient is Jose Larusso, Elementary Spanish faculty. Before presenting the award, the FSDC read quotes from colleagues who described Jose as "the most passionate educator I have ever had the pleasure of working with" and someone who is "always willing to go above and beyond, not only for their students but also for colleagues."
The Niehaus Family President's Excellence Award
The Niehaus Family President's Excellence Award was established in 2013 by Joe and Karen Niehaus, longtime supporters of Convent & Stuart Hall whose children attended the school. Additionally, Joe served on the Board of Trustees for seven years, with one term as Chair. The Niehaus family established the fund so that the President could select a recipient each year who exemplifies excellence in his or her work for the school. This year's recipient is Chief Financial Officer Trisha Peterson, who the FSDC introduced as a "person who has a huge heart for this school and does so many things that go unnoticed."
The Fusco Family Awards in Support of Educational Excellence
In November 2015, the school received a gift from the estate of Elvera "Ellie" Fusco, a beloved friend of the school and a graduate of the San Francisco College for Women at Lone Mountain. Her bequest established an endowed fund to support faculty salary and benefits. President Krejcarek, in collaboration with the estate trustees, wanted to honor Ellie's passion for education through the establishment of three awards presented each year in honor of Ellie, her sister Mildred (Millie) and their brother Lorenzo (Larry).
The Fusco Family Award in honor of Ellie Fusco is presented to a faculty or staff member who has the true "heart of an educator," someone who gives his or her all in the classroom while making sure the hearts and minds of students are activated and engaged. The award in honor of Millie is presented to a faculty or staff member whose work with students inspires passion and aspiration. The award in Larry's honor is presented to a staff person who shines in his or her work with students as a coach or service learning mentor.
The following faculty members received this year's Fusco Family Awards:
The Ellie Fusco Heart of an Educator Award
Krista Inchausti, Educational Innovation Coordinator
The Fusco Family Award in honor of Millie Fusco
Francisco Teixeira, High School Spanish faculty
The Fusco Family Award in honor of Larry Fusco
Mary Welday, Stuart Hall Grade 1 faculty, and Belle Akers, Convent Grade 1 faculty
The celebration concluded with Reba Sell — last year's recipient of the Sister Ann Conroy Award — reflecting on her experience at the University of Oxford last summer, where she completed a course of Philosophy in Literature.