January 31, 2024 at 10:39 a.m.


Congratulations to all our 2024 CSW Award recipients!

St. Thomas Aquinas 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.

Brenda Vermilya, St. Jude the Apostle, Wynantskill

Brenda Vermilya, St. Jude the Apostle, Wynantskill

Brenda Vermilya first came to St. Jude the Apostle in Wynantskill in the 2018-19 school year as a part-time nurse assigned to the school through the Wynantskill Union Free School District. From her very first day on the job, even though she was not a direct employee of the school, she immersed herself in the school community. When the COVID pandemic hit, Mrs. V, as the students call her, was brought on full-time and became essential to the school’s reopening and its ability to remain open and keep faculty, staff and students safe. From ordering PPE and infrared thermometers to training faculty and staff, she was on the front lines. Her dedication did not diminish when the pandemic was officially declared over. Mrs. V. does not hesitate to work with families to provide care for the medically vulnerable. Her personal willingness to go the extra mile, her skills and care are no doubt appreciated by the entire St. Jude community.  Mrs. V. is also a trainer for the American Red Cross in CPR, AED training and babysitter training. In fact, she trained every employee at St. Jude’s in CPR and AED techniques, making the school an even safer place to learn and work.

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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.

Elizabeth Bogdanowicz, Holy Spirit School, East Greenbush

Elizabeth Bogdanowicz, Holy Spirit School, East Greenbush

Elizabeth Bogdanowicz is a parent, community member and Parent School Association board member at Holy Spirit School in East Greenbush, where she is known as a “shining example” of selflessness and generosity, and a true embodiment of the values that define this school community. She has made an impact by actively participating in activities that promote the school’s Catholic identity. Through her leadership and commitment, she has fostered a sense of community and collaboration among parents, students and staff alike. The PSA has flourished under her guidance, creating a positive and inclusive atmosphere that aligns seamlessly with the values of the school community. In addition to her role with the PSA, she has played a pivotal part in organizing numerous fundraising efforts, including the Read-a-Thon and Color Run, events that not only brought in financial support for the school but strengthened the bonds of community. She has also built partnerships with local organizations, such as the Elks Club, which then partnered with the school to serve local veterans and to host events such as the Spring Fun Day. With her cheerful personality and contagious smile, Bogdanowicz inspires others to give their time, talents and resources for the betterment of Holy Spirit.

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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 acknowledgment for service to Catholic schools demonstrated through personal characteristics of zeal, support, enthusiasm, purpose and selfless generosity in the spirit of St. John Neumann.

Joan Thiesen, St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish School, Schenectady

Joan Thiesen, St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish School, Schenectady

Joan Thiesen has dedicated her entire adult life to educating the children of New York. She taught in both public and private schools until 2009 when she joined the staff of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish School in Schenectady, where she serves as a reading specialist and has held administrative positions as well. Teaching reading to students who struggle is Thiesen’s forte. She meets students where they are and gives them the basic skills they need to succeed. Knowing many of her students come from at-risk families, she provides literature-rich experiences that broaden their background knowledge and increase comprehension. The success that Thiesen creates in her classroom affects her students forever.

Outside the classroom she works tirelessly to ensure that at-risk families have everything they need, whether it’s food, money or encouragement, partnering with the parish to provide resources. She is an angel to these families and a true example of servant leadership.

Father Bob Longobucco, pastor of St. Kateri’s and diocesan Vicar General and Vicar for Faith Formation and Education, shares his own story of Thiesen’s dedication to Catholic education. “I had a sudden need for an interim principal at then-St. Helen’s School, and Joan had just retired from a distinguished and beloved career at Brown School. I asked her if she would step in and help for a short period of time. She politely told me all the reasons she could not take on the role. Then, fatefully, I asked her to pray about it. She knew she was doomed at that moment and, of course, she said yes,” he said. “Well, the Holy Spirit sure knew what to do, for 16 years later she is still saying yes, to our school and to our children.” Father Longobucco noted that with her “partner in grace,” Deacon Dick Thiesen, her life “is a devoted yes to the Holy Spirit.”

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Albany Diocesan School Board Community Partner Award recognizes members of our broader community who partner with us to demonstrate their commitment to Catholic school education.

The College of Saint Rose Logo

The College of Saint Rose

Scholarly. Energized. Socially active. Since its founding in 1920 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, these are the words that have defined The College of Saint Rose. Grounded in the liberal arts, the college emphasized the professional training of teachers from the outset. To this day, it is renowned for these programs, and we in the field of Catholic education are particularly grateful for the teacher and school personnel preparation programs that have directly affected our schools, our staff and our students in all the best ways. While the announcement of the closure of The College of Saint Rose will certainly impact those of us in the Capital Region’s education world, we want to express our deepest appreciation to the college and its founders, faculty and staff for providing such critical education to teachers-in-training for so many decades. The work you have done will live on forever in the lives you have touched both directly on campus and indirectly through the students who then go on to teach others. So many of our own faculty and staff have credentials from The College of Saint Rose, so the legacy given to us by the Sisters of St. Joseph will live on in them and in all those who graduated as Golden Knights.

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Thank you to the dedicated teachers and staff in our Catholic Schools!  
25 Years of Service

Sarah Estep, Catholic Central School, Latham

Eileen Johnson, Catholic Central School, Latham

Kris Hoffay, St. Jude the Apostle School, Wynantskill

30 Years of Service

Pat Goodwin, St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School, Saratoga Springs

Robert Goodwin, St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School, Saratoga Springs

Mary Susan Megna, St. Mary’s Institute, Amsterdam

35 Years of Service

Mary Jo Belles, St. Pius X School, Loudonville

Mary Burgess, Blessed Sacrament School, Albany

Eileen Dooley, Blessed Sacrament School, Albany

Anna Farone, St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School, Saratoga Springs

Maria Izzo, Saratoga Central Catholic High School, Saratoga Springs

Joanne Kelly, St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish School, Schenectady

Ellen Renzi, St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish School, Schenectady

50 Years of Service

Terence Murphy, Catholic Central School, Latham

— Catholic School Office


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