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Archdiocese of Chicago Announces Winners of the 2017 Heart of the School Awards

Archdiocese of Chicago Announces Winners of the 2017 Heart of the School Awards

Chicago, IL (May 2, 2017) The Archdiocese of Chicago is proud to announce 18 teachers, administrators and staff members from across its 217 Catholic schools were selected as the 2017 Heart of the School Award winners. For many years the Archdiocese has honored its outstanding Catholic school employees through the Heart of the School Awards, and more than 545 nominations were received this year. The winners, who represent Catholic elementary and high schools across the two-county Archdiocese, were selected based on their outstanding contributions to the schools and the students they serve.

“Our Catholic schools depend upon the talents, dedication and faith of our teachers, administrators and staff members,” said Dr. Jim Rigg, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of Chicago. “For generations, our Catholic schools have attained a well-deserved record of success in teaching and forming the faiths of our students. Without question, our school teachers, administrators and staff members deserve the credit for our success. I want to thank each of our awardees for accepting the vocation of Catholic education.”

The 2017 Heart of the School Award Winners
The Archdiocese’s Heart of the School Awards encompass nine award areas, with two winners selected for each award. Additional information on each award winner is included in the Appendix section of this news release.

Heart of Excellence: This award is given to teachers who foster the highest quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms. Through rigorous 21st century instruction, awardees demonstrate an ability to motivate each student to reach his or her greatest academic potential.
Award Winners:

  • Kathleen Dudek Douglass, Grade 4 Teacher, Ascension School (Oak Park)
  • Mary Stenson, Mathematics Teacher, Regina Dominican High School (Wilmette)

Heart of Inclusion: Christ calls us to welcome all who come to us. This award is given to teachers, staff members and administrators who foster inclusion in education by welcoming and serving all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background or the presence of defined learning needs. 
Award Winners:

  • Susan Kehoe, Assistant Principal, St. Catherine of Alexandria School (Oak Lawn)
  • Chiara Nease, Director of the Resource Learning Center, Holy Trinity High School (Chicago)

Heart of Enrichment: Catholic schools seek to teach the “whole child,” providing each student with enrichment opportunities beyond the core subjects. This award recognizes school employees who excel at providing instruction and activities in one or more enrichment area (e.g. art, music, foreign language, physical education, etc.).  
Award Winners:

  • Kelly Lamorena, Music, Band and Choir Teacher, St. Hilary School (Chicago)
  • Kyle Petros, Physical Education Teacher, St. Josaphat School (Chicago)

Heart of Service: This Award recognizes individuals who provide excellent support to the school community. Often not people who are “front and center,” awardees work behind the scenes to ensure the school successfully meets the mission of service to God’s children. 
Award Winners:

  • Joe Accardi, Mission Advancement Officer, St. Benedict Preparatory School (Chicago)
  • Lisa Sarcinella, Business Manager, St. Barnabas School (Chicago)

Heart of Christ: Christ is the true center of any Catholic school. Recipients of this award are outstanding examples of Christian service, love and compassion. Through both work and witness, they live out our Catholic mission every day. 
Award Winners:

  • Eileen Bruno, Junior High Teacher, St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School (Lemont)
  • Daniel Zundel, College Guidance Counselor, Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School (Chicago)

Heart of Innovation: Excellent educators are willing to innovate, infusing their work with the latest teaching practices and instructional technology. Recipients of this award reflect the ability to successfully serve students through adaptation and innovation. 
Award Winners:

  • Diniah Dean, Technology Resource Center Manager, De La Salle Institute (Chicago)
  • Julie Tuten, Technology Teacher, SS. Faith, Hope & Charity School (Winnetka)

Heart of Leadership: Recipients of this award demonstrate leadership in their school through mentoring, inspiring others and setting a clear vision. Awardees are not necessarily school administrators, but rather leaders who constantly motivate the school towards excellence, faith and service. 
Award Winners:

  • Christine Bremner, Technology Teacher and Coordinator, Our Lady of the Wayside School (Arlington Heights)
  • Lily Olson, Kindergarten Teacher and Assistant Principal, St. Gall School (Chicago)

Heart of Connection: Recipients of this award recognize that the school is part of a greater community, and actively seek to build connections between the community and the school. Through successful outreach to parishes, universities and/or other organizations, awardees consistently leverage outside resources to support the school and in turn enable the school to benefit the surrounding community. 
Award Winners:

  • Jim Dippold, Director Campus Ministry, Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (Waukegan)
  • Sharon Smogor, Social Studies Teacher, Carmel Catholic High School (Mundelein)

Heart of the Future: This award recognizes employees who have worked in education for three years or less and demonstrate outstanding excellence, leadership and service. Awardees are people who inspire those around them with their enthusiasm and support of our educational mission. 
Award Winners:

  • Michelle Gross, Grade 4 Teacher, St. Cletus School (La Grange)
  • Erica Massarelli, Grade 4 Teacher, St. Mary School (Buffalo Grove)

The Archdiocese will honor the awardees during a celebration on Thursday, May 11 at 11:30 a.m. at Ditka’s Restaurant, 2 Mid America Plaza, #100, Oakbrook Terrace. The luncheon celebration is sponsored by Our Sunday Visitor, the world’s largest English language Catholic publisher. Winners will be joined by their school colleagues, as well as family and friends, at the celebration.

About the 2017 Heart of the School Award Winners
Additional information available on our Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools Facebook page.

Heart of Excellence

Kathleen Dudek Douglass
Grade 4 Teacher
Ascension School (Oak Park)

Kathleen Dudek Douglass has taught at Ascension School since 2011. She began as a first grade teacher, and moved to fourth grade in 2015. Kathleen received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Mary’s College and went on to earn her master’s degree in education from the University of Portland. She is a graduate of the PACE (Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education) program through the University of Portland, where she taught for two years serving the needs of a Catholic school in Riverton, Utah. 

An excerpt from one of Kathleen’s nominations: Her willingness to help as needed is consistent through her tenure at our school. She is sought after as a committee member who brings fresh insight and practical thinking to a group. As a professional educator, she is reliable, prompt, organized, conscientious and generous in serving the school through special projects and assignments. She is a faith leader who prepares her class for Reconciliation too.

Mary Stenson
Mathematics Teacher
Regina Dominican High School (Wilmette)

Mary Stenson has taught at Regina Dominican High School since 2008. Mary is a mathematics teacher, and she also serves as a coach for the school’s Mathletes and Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering teams (WYSE). In addition to teaching and coaching, Mary is the co-moderator of Regina Dominican’s student council. Mary holds a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in mathematics and mathematics education and studied at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Northeastern Illinois University at the graduate level.

An excerpt from one of Mary’s nominations: Just walk by her classroom and you will see her implementing new instructional strategies or technologies on a daily basis. Her students are engaged, active and learning! Mary’s pursuit of excellence for our students goes beyond the classroom too. 

Heart of Inclusion

Susan Kehoe
Assistant Principal
St. Catherine of Alexandria School (Oak Lawn)

Susan Kehoe is the assistant principal of St. Catherine of Alexandria School. Her dream was always to teach, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bradley University. After beginning her career, she became aware of the many obstacles students faced and felt compelled to help, so she returned to school to complete a master’s degree in school counseling. She has worked in schools and educational organizations to provide counseling services to students for more than 20 years.

An excerpt from Susan’s nomination: The students look to Mrs. Kehoe as a role model and often as a parent figure. She does all these things very quietly and does not expect recognition for her great work. Without Susan in our school, many students would fall through the cracks and not find their true potential.

Chiara Nease
Director of the Resource Learning Center
Holy Trinity High School (Chicago)

Chiara Nease is the director of the resource program at Holy Trinity High School, where students from all levels and all abilities can work one-on-one with tutors and teachers. All are valued in her classroom, and she looks forward to working every day with her students to help them reach their full potential. Chiara received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in biology from DePaul University.

An excerpt from Chiara’s nomination: Chiara gets to know each student who walks into the RLC as an individual and can pretty quickly identify the kind of help they need most. She is patient but firm, helping students figure out how to successfully complete their work and build on their strengths. 

Heart of Enrichment

Kelly Lamorena
Music, Band and Choir Teacher
St. Hilary School (Chicago)

Kelly Lamorena teaches music (preschool through eighth grade), band and choir at St. Hilary School. Since joining St. Hilary in 2014, Kelly has developed the music program to include two concert bands, two choirs, a small vocal ensemble, two ukulele clubs and a bucket drum ensemble. Kelly graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) with a bachelor's degree in music education. At IWU, Kelly played trumpet in multiple ensembles and was the vocal percussionist and music director for the female acapella group, Touch of Class.

An excerpt from one of Kelly’s nominations: Kelly really puts her heart into teaching the children, and it shows in their excitement and smiles when they perform. Kelly truly shares her gifts with the children and St. Hilary family.

Kyle Petros
Physical Education Teacher
St. Josaphat School (Chicago)

Kyle Petros began teaching at St. Josaphat School three years ago as a physical education teacher. In Coach Petros’ classroom, students participate in a variety of different sports, activities and fitness games. It is important to him that every student’s needs are met to ensure each one can reach his or her full physical potential. Kyle received a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University.

An excerpt from Kyle’s nomination: Physical education is such an important enrichment area for children, and Coach Petros spent time and energy figuring out ways that Brendan could participate in this enrichment during his recovery.

Heart of Service

Joe Accardi
Mission Advancement Officer
St. Benedict Preparatory School (Chicago)

Joe Accardi has served as the mission advancement officer at St. Benedict Preparatory School for the past eight years. Prior to joining St. Benedict, Joe spent more than 30 years working in Catholic education as a teacher and assistant principal, among other roles. Joe received his bachelor’s degree in education from Rosary College and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Dominican University.

An excerpt of one of Joe’s nominations: Joe Accardi is the heart and backbone of St. Benedict and embodies the very definition of service. He is willing to step up and lend a hand with any project – big or small – at the school and Church. 

Lisa Sarcinella
Business Manager
St. Barnabas School (Chicago)

Lisa Sarcinella began her time at St. Barnabas School as a mother of two students, then became a substitute teacher, and later moved into the role as business manager. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from DePaul University.

An excerpt of Lisa’s nomination: Lisa works endless hours during the school day, at night and on the weekends, answering every email and question that the students, parents and teachers have for her. She never complains and NEVER seeks recognition but without a doubt deserves more than a round of applause.

Heart of Christ

Eileen Bruno
Junior High Teacher
St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School (Lemont)

Eileen Bruno began teaching at St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School in 1998 as the eighth grade teacher. She also served as the assistant principal for a time, as well as the fifth grade teacher. Currently, she teaches language arts for junior high students and guides eighth grade students through preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Eileen received her bachelor’s degree from St. Xavier University.

An excerpt of Eileen’s nomination: There is no one who exemplifies the Heart of Christ more for us than this selfless, extraordinarily hard working educator. She serves tirelessly with a smile and a kind word for everyone and, all the while, she creates experiences that deepen the faith of all. There is a little bit of miracle worker in this woman.

Daniel Zundel
College Guidance Counselor
Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School (Chicago)

Daniel Zundel serves as a college counselor at Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School (CTK). Daniel started at CTK in 2010 as a Jesuit Alumni Volunteer, where he taught civics and computer technology, and he coordinated the service program. At the end of his volunteer term, he was hired to stay on as the director of Christian service and teach civics. Daniel graduated from Loyola University, Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and history, completing a minor in pastoral leadership.

An excerpt of Daniel’s nomination: Daniel is full of compassion, love, and is a man of faith. He loves the students with whom he works, no matter what, he welcomes them just like Christ would.

Heart of Innovation

Diniah Dean
Technology Resource Center Manager
De La Salle Institute (Chicago)

Diniah Dean has been in the technology education field for over a decade, including the past six years at De La Salle Institute in Chicago as the technology resource center manager and technology teacher. She is extremely passionate about getting more girls involved in the field of computer science. In addition to teaching, Diniah is also the moderator for Girls Who Code and serves as a mentor for several young women with aspirations in computer science. 

An excerpt of Diniah’s nomination: Diniah is a humble person who wears many hats in the workplace, but excels beyond her responsibilities. She is a team player and a pleasure to work with!

Julie Tuten
Technology Teacher
SS. Faith, Hope & Charity School (Winnetka)

Julie Tuten is a technology teacher at SS. Faith, Hope & Charity School. Julie started teaching computer science classes at Oakton Community College and the College of Lake County in 2000. After receiving a master’s degree in elementary education from National Louis University, she began teaching computer science to students from kindergarten through eighth grade at a Catholic school in Chicago. While working there, Julie attended Northern Illinois University and received a master’s degree in education along with an endorsement in technology. Julie has been teaching technology to elementary-aged students since 2008.

An excerpt of Julie’s nomination: She is tremendously generous to share ideas that she is enthusiastic about with staffers at weekly meetings or via email to ALL. She hounds staff for the opportunity to help them bring technology into their lessons; asking us always what she can do to add a layer of technology to our instruction.

Heart of Leadership

Christine Bremner
Technology Teacher and Coordinator
Our Lady of the Wayside School (Arlington Heights)

Christine Bremner has taught at Our Lady of the Wayside School since 2009. For four years, she taught middle school science and religion, then four years ago became the school’s technology coordinator and teacher coach. During her eight years at Our Lady of the Wayside School, Christine has served on the Catholic Schools Week Committee, the Social Committee and the AdvancED School Accreditation Committee. She has also mentored new teachers, especially in science. Christine received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

An excerpt of Christine’s nomination: Although Christine is extremely busy in her technology role, she voluntarily mentors, facilitates, sponsors and provides science project education to 20 seventh graders who aspire to participate in the Illinois Junior Academy Science Fair.

Lily Olson
Kindergarten Teacher and Assistant Principal
St. Gall School (Chicago)

Lily Olson has been a kindergarten teacher at St. Gall School for the past seven years, and added to her responsibilities two years ago by also serving as the school’s assistant principal. When she is not teaching or handling her administrative tasks, Lily runs an after school running club for fourth through eighth graders, and she helps with the middle school summer program at the school, EXPLORE, a program that allows students to explore the city, helps others through volunteer work and keeps students’ brains active throughout the summer. Lily received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and recently graduated from Concordia University, where she received a master’s in curriculum and instruction with a focus and endorsement in English as a second language.

An excerpt of Lily’s nomination: Lily's lessons are solid and creative. She could have stopped there, being the best teacher she could. However, Lily has shared her expertise gently, positively and with great encouragement to those new to our profession.

Heart of Connection

Jim Dippold
Director Campus Ministry
Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (Waukegan)

Jim Dippold is the director of campus ministry at Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (CRSM). His passion is to encourage young people to discover their own gifts and talents to serve others and build up the community, as well as support them in deepening their relationships with God and developing a life of prayer. Prior to coming to CRSM, Jim taught at Red Cloud High School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He earned his master’s degree at Loyola University, Chicago and his bachelor’s degree at Marquette University.

An excerpt from Jim’s nomination: Jim Dippold is what every campus minister should be. He cares deeply for his students as individuals and sees within them unique talents that he works to bring out to serve the community.

Sharon Smogor
Social Studies Teacher
Carmel Catholic High School (Mundelein)

Sharon Smogor has been teaching at Carmel Catholic High School for 25 years. In addition to teaching Government/Civics, Chicago History and Culture classes, Sharon serves as the senior class moderator, Diversity Club moderator, and member of the UbD Curriculum Committee and Strategic Plan Committee. She is also a mentor for new teachers and a member of the Kairos adult teams. Sharon received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Loyola University, Chicago.

An excerpt of Sharon’s nomination: By creating opportunities in which our students relate to those far beyond our school walls, Sharon herself is our Heart of Connection. Synonymous with the terms "social justice," "civic engagement" and "community outreach," Sharon’s efforts are abundant.

Heart of the Future

Michelle Gross
Grade 4 Teacher
St. Cletus School (La Grange)

Michelle Gross is a fourth grade teacher at St. Cletus School in La Grange. Her goal as a teacher is to be as involved in her school as possible. Over the last two years at St. Cletus, she has helped coach Girls on the Run for third, fourth and fifth grade girls, as well as coached fifth grade boys volleyball. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with language arts and social science endorsements from DePaul University.

An excerpt of Michelle’s nomination: St. Cletus is blessed to have a teacher like Michelle Gross, and she is the Heart of the Future!

Erica Massarelli
Grade 4 Teacher
St. Mary School (Buffalo Grove)

Erica Massarelli is a fourth grade teacher at St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove. She is a member of multiple professional learning communities at school and also participated in the AdvancED Leadership team, where she ensured implementation of her school’s continuous improvement plan. Erica received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. She is currently working toward her master’s degree in reading instruction and curriculum at National Louis University.

An excerpt of Erica’s nomination: Erica is an asset to our school and to our profession. She has my highest endorsement and my gratitude for the exceptional contributions she has made at Saint Mary School.