Union: US – Nano Nagle Award at St. Norbert Catholic School

Pictured above, from left, Mr. Joseph Ciccoianni, principal; 2019 St. Norbert Catholic School Nano Nagle Award recipient Miss Molly Camp; and Presentation Sister Breda Christopher.

The administration of St. Norbert Catholic School, Orange, California, is very happy to continue a special tradition—the Nano Nagle Award. Since its inaugural year in 2009, this award is given annually to one faculty member who, as described in essays written by students, teaches the students about the life and work of Nano Nagle and exemplifies this brave woman’s efforts.

In 2009, a generous alumni family established the Nano Nagle Award at St. Norbert Catholic School in gratitude for the quality education their children received at the school.

The award has several qualifications. First, the donors are to remain anonymous. Second, the cash value of the award is for the recipient’s personal, not classroom, use. Finally, the award is to be made by a panel of judges reviewing redacted essays written by students wishing to do so; the essays cannot be a mandatory school assignment, and can be written about any teacher of the student’s choice, not necessarily their homeroom teacher.

Each year, St. Norbert students learn about the life of Nano Nagle and her work educating Irish children in defiance of English Penal Laws which forbade schooling for such children. As they study Nano, they are encouraged to see how her charism is being carried out by their very own teachers today. Nano’s legacy extends over 50 years here at St. Norbert when in 1965, just one year after the parish was founded, four Presentation Sisters opened the school.

With a new focus each year on the qualities exemplifying Nano’s work, the students have a week each spring to write their essay. This year, they were to write about the way a teacher exemplifies Nano’s qualities of faith, generosity, and justice.

At the baccalaureate awards presentation on May 30, Principal Joseph Ciccoianni reported that 215 essays were submitted nominating 15 teachers, and the recipient was Miss Molly Camp, the fourth grade teacher at St. Norbert.

Of Miss Camp’s faith, students said, “She keeps God in her heart,” and “She follows God’s path.” Of her generosity, students noted, “She always gives her time to help us,” and “She encourages us to help others.” Of Miss Camp’s justice, the students remarked, “She listens with an open mind and teaches us how to be fair.” To sum it up, one student said, “Every time I see her smile, I smile. She is the best teacher ever!”

When asked about the award, Miss Camp said, “It’s such an honor, and I’m so lucky to have taught such amazing students! They have filled me with so much joy and receiving this award has overwhelmed me with so much love for the St. Norbert Catholic School community!”

Of course, all of the teachers look forward to the award announcement, followed by the opportunity to read the redacted essays written about them. Once again, the panel of judges had a tough job and the essays made it clear that all nominees carry Nano’s light forward in the work they do with St. Norbert Catholic School students.