By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published April 30, 2020
ATLANTA–The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) announced that two Atlanta Catholics are among the 27 recipients of the NCEA 2020 “Lead, Learn, Proclaim Award.”
This award highlights the outstanding work undertaken in Catholic education communities across the country. Ana DeMello, math teacher at Our Lady of Mercy High School, and Father Jim Duffy, SM, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church, are among the 2020 nationwide recipients.
A mix of individual leaders, teachers, pastors and superintendents comprise the cast of exceptional awardees entrusted with the faith formation of students in Catholic education communities.
“Just as the Catholic Church is the people and not the buildings, so are Catholic schools not just buildings, but communities of educators and students bound by faith,” said Kathy Mears, NCEA Interim President/CEO. “The LLP Award is to recognize those individuals and organizations whose dedication, faith, knowledge and skills fulfill the mission of Catholic education.”
Dr. Diane Starkovich, superintendent of schools for the Atlanta Archdiocese, was proud to learn of the news.
“When I heard that Mrs. DeMello and Father Duffy were being nominated for the ‘Lead, Learn, Proclaim Award,’ I was thrilled. Reading the applications submitted by their respective principals, I knew that the selection committee at NCEA was going to read about two of our best,” said Dr. Starkovich.
NCEA was set to make the awards presentations during a national ceremony, but the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancellation.
“While it would have been wonderful to have them recognized with outstanding Catholic educators from across this country during the formal awards ceremony, I’m truly honored to know both of them and I continue in my gratitude for their great work in their school communities. These awards have brought well-deserved recognition to not only two exceptional Catholic educators but also to the outstanding Catholic schools we have in the Archdiocese of Atlanta,” said Starkovich.
DeMello has served at the Fayetteville high school since its doors opened in 2000. She teaches algebra and calculus and is a trusted advisor for students for a wide range of activities.
“I never taught anywhere but a Catholic school,” she said. “This is where I belong.”
Marist Father Duffy was ordained a priest in May 1979 and has served as pastor of OLA for a number of years. The parish has an elementary school, Our Lady of the Assumption School. He was nominated by the school’s principal, Lisa Cordell.
“Father Duffy continues to have a positive impact on the families and students at OLA through his support of the programs and activities that happen daily on our campus,” she wrote. Cordell praised his modeling of the Marist “vow of service.”
Father Duffy and DeMello join Our Lady of Mercy Student Danielle Garger as a national NCEA winner. She earned the 2020 “Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award” for service to others.