Archive for the ‘Sr. Bernadette McManigal’ Category

One of the Pope’s prayer intentions for September is: “That all teachers may know how to communicate love of the truth and instill authentic moral and spiritual values.”

By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal, B.V.M.

You know autumn is around the corner when there is crispness in the morning air and yellow school buses make their appearance once again! This week, schools in the Diocese of Arlington opened their doors to the 2011-2012 academic year. Principals, teachers and staff have spent the summer preparing classrooms and lesson plans to welcome back their students.

There have been a few changes in our office as well. We have a new Director of Enrollment, Marketing and Special Projects. Mrs. Reneé Q. White, previously principal of St. Luke School in McLean, joined us this summer. Reneé will bring energy and creativity to this position.

We also have three new principals this year: Mr. Art Fairweather at St. John the Evangelist School, Mr. Mark Cozensa at St. Luke School, and Mrs. Wendy Murphy at Epiphany School. I wish them the best as they begin a new year.

Every year we strive to create a faith-filled environment which will inspire our students both now and in the future. We ask your prayers that God will bless our efforts!

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal

John Paul the Great Graduates (photo credit: Gretchen Crowe, Arlington Catholic Herald)

This week marked the last graduation of the year for the Diocese of Arlington. A total of 850 students received their diplomas. This was an especially eventful year for our office because the first senior class from Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School graduated. The 65 students who received their diplomas will be the first of many in years to come.

I would like to congratulate all our graduates, from all our high schools. They have worked hard to successfully complete an academically challenging program. I am excited for their future endeavors – the classes of 2011 have a lot to offer their country and the world. I pray that they always find the courage to live their lives as good Christians and that they will encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal, BVM

This year's scholarship winners

Students from Nativity School in Burke have big dreams for their future! After submitting to the Dare to Dream . . . Expect to Succeedscholarship program, projects illustrating aspirations of becoming an Architectural Designer, a Sports Reporter, a Columnist and an Orthopedic Surgeon, eighth graders Natalie Steward, Brianna Flores, Maura Blanchfield and Ryan Hasegana (respectively) found themselves winners of this national competition.

“Dare to Dream . . . Expect to Succeed” is a challenge to students across the nation by Brainstorm USA to set goals and have the determination and self-confidence to reach them. Children are encouraged to use their dreams to give back to their communities. Out of hundreds of applications from across the United States of America, Natalie and Brianna placed second, while Maura and Ryan placed third. The students were presented with personal computers and over forty educational software programs to help them reach their future goals.

We look forward to seeing our students grow into successful and community-minded professionals. In the meantime, I am proud of the accomplishments these young people have already attained!


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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal, BVM
Superintendent of Schools

Last week, students, parents and faculty from St. Luke School in McLean had an opportunity to meet with Captain Heidi Stefanyshyn-Piper, a former NASA astronaut and a veteran of two shuttle missions.  She visited to introduce students to her field of study and spoke about travel beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

Students work on a lab, guided by Captain Stefanyshyn-Piper

Captain Stefanyshyn-Piper, a graduate of Catholic schools, treated students to an exciting presentation on the Space Station and Shuttle missions.  She also helped to conduct a lab with science teachers Fred Lampazzi and Timothy Burns and advanced science students  to determine friction rates in robots.

It is our hope that the foundation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) offered to students at Saint Luke and all of our Catholic schools, combined with visits from scientists like Captain Stefanyshyn-Piper, will inspire a new generation of Americans committed to using STEM to create a better world.

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal

Students and Faculty with Senator Charles Colgan in his office.

Last week, students, parents and faculty from our Diocesan schools rallied in Richmond to tell our senators to vote “yes” on House Bill 2314. While unfortunately state senators voted against the bill and it did not pass, the rally was an important lesson in civics for the students who participated. Despite the outcome, it was an exciting and successful event due to the professionalism of the principals, teachers, parents and students who attended and made our case when visiting with the senators or their staff.

House Bill 2314 would have created income tax credits for businesses that donate to scholarship foundations. These donations would have enabled low-income students to attend nonpublic K-12 schools and, at the same time, saved Virginia taxpayers’ money. Had the bill been passed, it would have enabled parents to exercise their right to send their child to their school of choice.

For the students this was a first-hand experience to visit their senators and begin to learn about their rights as American citizens and the workings of state Government. I am proud of the hard work of our faculty, staff, and students!

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal, B.V.M.

Christmas is almost here, and many of our students are preparing for the coming of the Christ Child by reenacting that most holy of nights in Bethlehem. The traditional Christmas pageant is a tangible way for our students to envision the birth of Christ and it gives them a chance to welcome Him into their hearts during this holy season. Traditional songs and carols, along with the retelling of the Christmas story, make Christmas come alive for our students and their parents!

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal, BVM

Change is certainly in the air here in Northern Virginia. The leaves are turning from green to gold. The weather has a bite that was not present a few weeks ago. Next week, November 14-20, will bring Discover Catholic Schools Week. While schools welcome inquiries throughout the year, this week is particularly dedicated to helping parents make changes in their children’s lives by introducing them to the benefits of a Catholic education.

During Discover Catholic Schools Week, schools will be offering open houses and events that give prospective parents the opportunity to visit schools, meet faculty and staff, and ask discerning questions.

Some of these parents are in the military; they will be locating to the area from different parts of the country and world. Discover Catholic Schools Week gives them an opportunity to visit multiple schools in the area so that they can make the transition for their family as smooth as possible.

Other families are considering moving their children from public or private schools to our Catholic school system. Discover Catholic Schools Week presents them with a time to not only learn more about the high standards of academics at our schools, but also about the faith formation that is an integral part of a child’s growth as a student and a child of God.

Of course Discover Catholic Schools Week is also for first-time parents; they are looking for the perfect fit for their child. This event gives these parents a chance to acclimate themselves to the sometimes daunting task of sending their small child away to school for the first time. It’s a chance to meet the friendly faces of the faculty and staff who are devoted to their students and will lead each individual down the road of a challenging and formative education.

Visit our website to find a schedule of events and video on Catholic Schools Week. If you have an opportunity, please stop and visit one of our amazing schools next week and invite your neighbors and friends!

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal

An exhibitor gives an interactive demonstration to a teacher at the Diocesan Education Institute.

On Friday, Oct. 22, the Office of Catholic Schools hosted the annual Diocesan Education Institute. Approximately 1,400 teachers and principals came from all corners of the diocese for a day of professional development.

This year’s gregarious keynote speaker, John Antonetti, was well-received. Mr. Antonetti focused on engaging students in the classroom: on the elementary level, he spoke about engaging the whole child and at the high school level he spoke about the importance of writing for student achievement.

His morning talk with the elementary faculty was so successful that some returned in the afternoon to hear what he had to say to the high school teachers. Principal of St. Luke School, Renee White, said, “He was able to connect with everyone. Everyone could identify with some part of what he was trying to say. He did it in a humorous way, but it was still so valuable. I have not spoken to one person that did not enjoy his presentation.” Fifty-one general sessions were also offered to teachers and principals.

A wide range of topics were covered by local speakers to provide teachers and principals with the support and encouragement they need. Exhibitors from around the country were also present, showcasing the newest technology, textbooks and classroom materials. Teachers and principals were able to browse and research new ideas for their classrooms and schools.

This year, for the first time, 16 exhibitors also gave lunch time presentations to interested parties. The highlight of the event was Mass celebrated by Bishop Paul S. Loverde. In the Office of Catholic Schools, we always appreciate the time Bishop Loverde gives to the Diocesan Education Institute and our school faculty and staff. I am proud that the Office of Catholic Schools is able to offer this day of professional development to our teachers and administrators. They are the backbone of the educational system, and their success and continued learning experience means the success of our students.

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal, Superintendent

Donna Godek was one of the four teachers selected this year to receive the Distinguished Teacher Award sponsored by the Catholic Business Network. She was described by a faculty member of Holy Cross Academy as “a Star Teacher.” This faculty member said,  “She is a bright, shining light in the lives of her children; each day sparkles in Donna’s classrooms because Donna brings out the best in each child, allowing him or her to reflect the love of Jesus in a unique way.”


Donna Godek teaching a lesson on static electricity.


Donna received her degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from the William Paterson University  in New Jersey. She married a man in the military, so Donna moved a great deal with her family.

Her first teaching position was in Colorado Springs where she taught Kindergarten in a day care setting. She went on to teach preschool in West Point, N.Y. During a stint in Germany, Donna taught at a German-American Department of Defense school and the John F. Kennedy Schule School. While in Germany, she first taught Kindergarten and then moved onto teach English to 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, both as a first language to American students and as a second language to German children.

Donna has taught Kindergarten at Holy Cross Academy for 6 years and describes her love of teaching by saying,  “Teaching Kindergarten is my passion because the children are so eager to learn. If I can help them to develop a love for learning, they will reach their potential. This love of learning will be the foundation of their lives, as each one fulfills his/her dreams. I know that they will become the best they can be and will use the gifts that God gave them. I love my job!”

We are blessed to have teachers like Donna working for the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Arlington. I hope you will join me in recognizing Donna as one of our exceptional teachers who truly is a shining light to our students.

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By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal 

Last week, the schools of the Diocese of Arlington opened their doors and began the 2010-2011 academic year. Teachers and administrators have been working hard to prepare their schools for their students; let me fill you in on a few of the new initiatives and new faces in our schools this year.

Students at Holy Cross Academy



Development Initiative for Elementary Schools: Several elementary schools in the diocese are exploring a new stewardship model. Aimed at staving off “fundraising fatigue,” this approach looks to engage more people in the mission of the school through an annual fund process. The Office of Catholic Schools is directing the initiative, which is guided by a consultant relationship with ISPD (Institute of School and Parish Development), a longstanding leader in Catholic school advancement. 

Online Courses offered by Paul VI High School: Online courses will be open to all Catholic high-school students. There will be classes in genetics and microbiology. A recent Arlington Catholic Herald article states, “in addition to covering advanced concepts and technologies while still in high school, the self-paced nature and flexibility of the courses are a benefit to offering these hybrid classes.” What a great way to offer our students something old in a new way! 

New Faces: Also, don’t forget to read the Herald article about our five new principals and one new president who will be joining the school communities of Corpus Christi, St. John the Evangelist, Queen of Apostles, St. William of York, Siena Academy and Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School. 

I wish all the students of the Diocese of Arlington a happy and healthy 2010-2011 academic year. And I pray for our teachers and administrators as they undertake task of educating our students to prepare them to be tomorrow’s leaders, growing ever closer to Christ along the way.

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