The Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) school system is pleased to announce that a member of the Green Bay community is generously donating $1,000 to each contracted GRACE teacher in appreciation for their hard work and dedication to in-person teaching throughout the school year in support of our students’ academic, spiritual and social development.
In total, that accounts for nearly 190 GRACE teachers.
“GRACE teachers did not waiver nor miss a beat during the pandemic,” said the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous and have the spotlight shine on our GRACE teachers. “Learning continued for students, and the teachers are to receive credit for their roles in leading teaching each and every day.”
“GRACE teachers showed up, they got the job done, and they demonstrated dedication and commitment to putting students first in all they did during this extraordinary year,” the donor continued. “This gift recognizes their commitment and efforts.”
The announcement was made during a press conference at Holy Family Catholic School, one of nine GRACE schools that serve about 2,200 students in preschool through eighth grade. The event, held during Teacher Appreciation Week, was attended by members of area media outlets as well as all nine principals and a group of teachers representing our GRACE schools; all teachers were invited to tune in to a live update for the surprise announcement.
Speakers included Mrs. Kimberly Desotell, President of GRACE; Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay; Mr. Bill Micksch, Chair of the GRACE Board of Trustees; and Mrs. Jodi Sullivan, an award-winning GRACE teacher for 22 years.
“We truly recognize that each and every individual employee throughout our schools contributed to our success this year, but we also realize that without our teachers our platform of education would not exist,” President Desotell said. “Our work is a product of the teaching and the faith that occurs daily in our Catholic schools. Thank you, GRACE teachers!”
Mr. Micksch echoed similar sentiments, saying, “We are very proud of this gift to each and every GRACE contracted teacher today. This is a testimony of the value of our Catholic school teachers and the way in which they have served students and families first during this challenging year. … Our faith, too, provided tremendous confidence for decisions and gave peace and certainty to families and teachers, to focus on the work and the needs of our students first.”
Mrs. Sullivan, a first-grade teacher at Holy Cross Catholic School, is representative of the outstanding educators throughout the GRACE school system. She is a recipient of several prestigious honors, including three Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction Awards (2013, 2019 and 2021) and a Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship Award (2021).
She stated that teaching in-person this school year during a pandemic was a challenge, but it was a challenge that the GRACE community was ready to tackle head on.
“As a teacher, we had to take so many things that we do day in and day out and rethink those things,” she said. “Routines such as walking in the hall, using lockers, going out to recess, sitting down to lunch, literacy centers, spacing desks vs. using tables in the classroom, and how to use school supplies — all had to be reimagined.”
“We learned the value of sanitizing, sanitizing, and more sanitizing,” she added. “We came up with ways to make our schools safe, so we could all learn and succeed in person together! But we did it … and did it successfully!”
Mrs. Sullivan said the strength to adapt and overcome came from students, their families and GRACE colleagues, noting they all provided motivation and inspiration. She added that the anonymous donor’s generous gift will not be forgotten.
“I wish to thank this gracious donor not only from myself, but on behalf of every single GRACE contracted teacher,” Mrs. Sullivan said. “It feels good to be recognized and acknowledged for doing what we know is best. Students belong in schools, and schools are made to be full of students. Thank you for recognizing that. And thank you for your generosity. … May God bless you, your family and also may God bless all associated with our GRACE Catholic schools.”