WILKES-BARRE – Three educators and two administrators in the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System are being recognized for their commitment to Catholic Education and sharing the love of Christ with young people.
During the Diocesan Teachers’ Institute Mass, held Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, at Saint Nicholas Church, each honoree received the Saint John Paul II Award for 25 years or more of dedicated service to Catholic Education in the Diocese of Scranton.
The recipients include Diane Centrella of Notre Dame Elementary School in East Stroudsburg; Alisia McNamee of Saint John Neumann Regional Academy in Williamsport; Jennifer Olmstead of Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School in East Stroudsburg; Ann Marie Rogers of Saint Clare/Saint Paul School in Scranton; and Christopher Tigue of Saint Nicholas/Saint Mary School in Wilkes-Barre.
Olmstead, who teaches French to students in seventh thru 12th grade, reflected on what her teaching profession has meant after accepting her award.
“My school is like a family. When we walk in the door, we know that our kids are part of our extended family. Their families are also a part of it,” she said. “The teachers at my school are some of my dearest friends. The administration is supportive, so there is a lot that brings us back year after year.”
Centrella is now in her 26th year teaching kindergarten.
“I’m always honored to teach the littlest ones. I’ve learned so much and they’re great teachers,” she explained. “Every day is different. It is creative and full of God.”
Centrella said her students get excited to learn about God.
“It is their favorite subject. They want to hear about Jesus every day. They want to hear stories, they want to talk about what Jesus would do,” she added.
After teaching at La Salle Academy in Jessup for nearly two decades, Rogers moved to Saint Clare/Saint Paul School six years ago. She has taught art, pre-school and first grade during all that time. She also coached track and field and cross-country at Holy Cross High School for more than a decade.
“I have been able to combine my love for Jesus with my daily work,” she said. “It’s nice to see the kids that you’ve had grown up and all their accomplishments, getting married. I now have kids of kids that I’ve taught in school!”
After starting his teaching career in Hazleton, Tigue spent time in Scranton and Dunmore before ending up in Wilkes-Barre. He is currently the principal at Saint Nicholas/Saint Mary School.
“We not only teach excellence, but we teach faith and passing that on is really what the mission is all about,” he said.
While all the educators receiving the Saint John Paul II Award have seen changes in technology, instruction methods and security, Tigue said one thing has not changed.
“The core values that we have haven’t changed,” he said.
That is a sentiment that McNamee, the current principal at Saint John Neumann Regional Academy in Williamsport, agreed with wholeheartedly.
“I am a product of Catholic education, actually in the buildings I teach in and lead right now,” she said. “The faith, morals and values are needed so much in today’s world and society.”
While she laughed while explaining that some of her former students are now part of her teaching staff, McNamee said one of the best parts of the job are when former students reach out and explain the lasting impact she has had on them.
“When they come up to you and tell you what you have meant in their life, it’s really overwhelming,” McNamee ended by saying.