The Vicki Bullis Distinguished School Staff Award honors a school staff member (secretarial, development, maintenance, etc.) who goes above and beyond the call of duty in her/his role. This dedication is demonstrated in daily activities which support the school’s mission and community.
Nancy Kelly, Blessed Sacrament School, Albany
Kelly, affectionately known as the matriarch of Blessed Sacrament School for the last 20 years,?first became an integral part of the school family when she enrolled her children there many years ago. Her role at Blessed Sacrament School has been multi-faceted; however, her role as secretary has been most vital to everyone whose life she has touched.
Being a school secretary is much more than one might think. Not only does Kelly keep the school on schedule, she is the first point of contact for parents, visitors, and very often, students! Her office is the hub of the school. All day long, the phone rings, emails are sent, people come in and out, and all the while Kelly is there keeping everything afloat. She is personable and kind and has developed close relationships with the teachers and administration. She is admired by so many for her sincerity, creativity and compassion. She is a true champion of Catholic education.
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The Mother Frances Cabrini Distinguished School Support Award honors a member of the school community who challenges the entire community to make a stronger commitment to the school’s Catholic mission through the personal giving of time and talents. This stewardship is an affirmation that the education of our youth involves the entire community.
Debbie Rockwood, St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School, Saratoga Springs
Rockwood, current board president of St. Clement’s School, embodies the ideal that the education of our youth should involve the entire community. When COVID-19 presented significant fundraising challenges for the school, Rockwood creatively sought the partnership of local businesses to expand fundraising efforts with great success. She enjoys preparing welcome bags for all new families and is eager to conduct tours when needed. She can be found at St. Clement’s during the summer months doing whatever needs to be done, always with a smile and making others feel welcome. Rockwood is professional, focused and open to new ideas from her fellow board members and school administration. What amazes many is that her children graduated from St. Clement’s School over 10 years ago! That type of commitment is truly exceptional and demonstrates Rockwood’s love for the mission of Catholic education.
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The St. John Neumann Award for Commitment to Catholic Education recognizes an individual who communicates to the Catholic community, and to the broader community, that Catholic schools are the best investment and hope for the future of our church and society. The award gives public acknowledgement for service to Catholic schools demonstrated through personal characteristics of zeal, support, enthusiasm, purpose and selfless generosity in the spirit of St. John Neumann.
Dr. Paul J. O’Brien, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons School, Schenectady
O’Brien is a tireless supporter of all things Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons. Over the course of more than 40 years in the classroom, many of his students chose teaching as their profession due to his tremendous influence. O’Brien took that a step further by choosing to mentor many young teachers as they began their careers.
When tragedy struck the school, such as the fire at the field house, O’Brien was there to lift the spirits of the school community. He is a man of hope and purpose, always keeping the story of Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons School alive and center stage through his social media presence, enthusiastic attendance at school events and ongoing promotion of the school throughout the community.
O’Brien has made Catholic school education a reality for countless students, not only through the selfless generosity of he and his wife, Debbie, but also by connecting families with resources to help provide for those most in need.
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The Community Partner Award recognizes members of our broader community who partner with us to demonstrate their commitment to Catholic school education.
James D. Cultrara, The New York State Catholic Conference
Cultrara is a remarkable supporter of Catholic education in our Diocese and in all of the dioceses of New York State. Cultrara serves as the director for education at the New York State Catholic Conference and as the co-chairman of the NYS Coalition for Independent Religious Schools. He can be found front and center in a variety of environments when our schools require advocacy including in the state legislature, senate, education department, and anywhere else schools need support. Cultrara can be found at local board of education meetings late at night when he senses that one of our Catholic schools requires assistance in fighting for what they are legally entitled to. He attends meetings when requested to educate school community members and staff on policies and opportunities. In short, Cultrara has great passion for Catholic education and it would be difficult to identify a greater supporter within the political circles he works.