By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) awarded St. Bernadette School teacher Mary Anne Jezierski with the 2018 Lead, Learn, Proclaim Award during the NCEA Convention & Expo held April 3-5 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jezierski was chosen from more than 150,000 teachers and administrators, as well as diocesan leaders and organizations dedicated to the nation’s Catholic schools. After an involved application process, she was notified of her award in January. She is the only award recipient from the Northeast and the first to be honored with this award in the Worcester Diocese and the Archdiocese of Boston.
The annual award honors those whose ministry is Catholic school education and who have demonstrated a strong Catholic educational philosophy, as well as exceptional ability, dedication and results.
Jezierski has been teaching for 29 years; 18 of those have been at St. Bernadette School. Teaching was not her original career path; in fact, it wasn’t until her third college and fifth major that she finally felt the calling to teach.
“I can’t picture myself doing anything else,” she said. “I love it.” Jezierski teaches social studies to students in grades 6-8.
“Every year is refreshing,” she said. “This age group is never the same. They have a lot of insight and I give them a chance to voice their opinions. I learn a lot from them as well.”
Current event discussions are part of Jezierski’s social studies classes in order to connect the then and now. For example, while studying the events of 9/11, history, economics, and psychology are discussed.
“We delve deep into people of history; not just facts, times and places,” she said.
She has mutual respect for students and her classroom philosophy is that of a project-based classroom.
“Students are seldom sitting,” said Jezierski. “Instead they are doing, showing and collaborating.”
“She has continually demonstrated a commitment to her students and has contributed significantly in collaborating with her colleagues in the interest of developing a comprehensive and integrated program at St. Bernadette School,” said Principal Deborah O’Neil. “She challenges students to think beyond content to connect Catholic social teachings to their every interaction.”
Jezierski has been instrumental in obtaining grants in order to bring technology into the classroom such as green screens and iPads.
Despite her initial apprehension to technology, she has embraced it and realizes how much it has helped in education to level the playing field.
Jezierski often is asked to share her knowledge on how to use technology in the Catholic classroom with other Catholic schools in the Worcester and Boston areas.
She admits she was in shock when she heard about being chosen for the award.
“I credit who I am today because of the support of my principal,” she said. “She is my biggest supporter.”
St. Bernadette School is a Roman Catholic elementary and middle school with a diverse student body of 460 students with limited class size. More information on the school can be found at www.stb-school.org.