Anonymous donation supports GRACE teachers

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | May 10, 2022

Gift provides master’s degree program scholarships and top teacher awards

GREEN BAY — One generous gift will serve GRACE (Green Bay Area Catholic Education) teachers in two capacities.  

The “Invest in Teacher Excellence” program, announced on May 4, offers a GRACE educator master’s degree program through St. Norbert College in De Pere and also recognizes exceptional teachers through a “Top Talent Teacher Award.”

The master’s degree path provides GRACE teachers the opportunity to apply for fully-funded scholarships for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at St. Norbert College. Through an application process, 19 educators will receive scholarships that will cover the cost of tuition, books and fees. The coursework will be conducted in a cohort model so the teachers will have the opportunity to learn together.

Jenny Hockenberry, dean of humanities and professor of philosophy at St. Norbert College, said that GRACE teachers in the Invest in Teacher Excellence program will meet for class one evening per week. Classes will be offered in eight-week cycles, so they will take two classes per semester. Including summer work, teachers will be able to complete coursework in the master’s degree program  in two years. They then will be able to “take as long or little time as they need” to complete their thesis, said Hockenberry.

Kimberly Desotell, GRACE president, said that guidelines for applying for and  receiving a scholarship include: a teacher must have three years experience with GRACE, have mastered skills such as classroom management and be a full-time employee.

Graduate classes in liberal arts support the work of the GRACE educators and serve their desire as learners, said Hockenbery.

The program is designed to “rekindle their intellectual curiosity as adults,” she said. “The idea was (that) this is a way to deepen one’s own love of wisdom, to think deeply about their own selves, their world, about God and really open them up to new perspectives that maybe they haven’t studied as undergraduates — in terms of the sciences, in terms of social sciences, in terms of the humanities — and bring them all together in a way that helps people understand their own sense of vocation, what they want to do in the world.”

“This is not a degree that’s going to take them out of the classroom,” said Desotell. “This is a degree that’s going to sustain them in their quest of excellence every single day in the classroom.”

“Invest in Teacher Excellence” is not the first partnership between GRACE and St. Norbert College. CatholicLink, which also includes Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, was founded in 2014 to help grow enrollment and retain faculty and staff. Benefits of CatholicLink include a 50% tuition waiver for employees’ children and a $5,000 stipend for St. Norbert graduates who teach in a GRACE school or Notre Dame Academy for three consecutive years.

“There is an increased interest in how we (St. Norbert College) can serve our community, this idea that we have these resources and we would like to share them throughout Green Bay with people we know are excited about learning more,” said Hockenberry. “I’ve been talking with some GRACE teachers and also with the diocese about ways we could better provide educational services. This is such a great gift.”

GRACE teachers will be notified in early June about their master’s program scholarship status.

The “Top Teacher Talent Award” will provide a $1,000 stipend to 20 GRACE teachers who demonstrate strengths in the areas of instruction, leadership, student engagement and classroom results. The application process will require teachers to answer four questions. A blind review process will include three principals, a GRACE director and a school board member, said Desotell.

GRACE teachers are encouraged to apply for the award program through their schools by May 23. The awards will be announced at the GRACE opening in-service on Aug. 16 for the 2022-2023 school year.   

Desotell expressed her gratitude to the benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous.

The benefactor “is interested in supporting teachers in the classroom to continue their own professional development to help them realize their gifts and their talents to impart upon children and to help them reinforce what they are doing already in our schools,” she said.

GRACE is a nine-school system and serves the 23 Catholic parishes within the greater Green Bay community. Enrollment “continues to track ahead of where we were last year at this time,” said Desotell.

“I’m also very proud to state that we have been able this year, in anticipation of teachers’ contracts for next year, to give our teachers and all of our employees the largest raise in GRACE history,” she said. “That’s a result of our enrollment growth over the past year.” 

Related Posts

Scroll to Top