Colleen O’Connor Grochowski, PhD
This past year the Monsignor Gerald Lawrence Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching was celebrated for 25 years of recognizing the excellent teachers in the Diocese of Raleigh Catholic Schools. Anne Stahel, the founder of the Award and Chair of the Committee since it’s inception in 1992, has decided to “pass the gavel” but will continue her extraordinary commitment to the Award as Chair Emeritus and invaluable mentor.
Anne and the Committee are delighted that Dr. Colleen O’Connor Grochowski (pronounced ‘Grow-husky’) has accepted the position of Chairperson. Colleen has served on the Lewis Award Committee since 2005, and as vice-chair from 2010. Her ‘day job’ is associate dean for Curricular Affairs, Duke University School of Medicine. She and her husband, Chris reside in Durham, have two adult sons, and recently became grandparents for the first time. Colleen shared her thoughts and experience with the Lewis Award.
“First, let me tell you that I have a deep appreciation for Catholic education. I am a product of Catholic education. Our children went to Catholic schools. Our younger son is a Catholic high school teacher. It is such a joy for me to have the opportunity to be “involved” in Catholic education through my work with the Lewis Award. I should also tell you that I’m an educator, but my focus is on adult learning. The Lewis Award has allowed me the opportunity to go back to primary and secondary schools to witness the wonder of children learning.
The Lewis Award allows us to acknowledge and celebrate Catholic school educators. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be allowed into teachers’ classrooms to observe them. I’m touched by their commitment to their students, their energy, and their creativity. Their love for their students is palpable. These educators are in it for the love of our children and our God. We formally celebrate them once a year through the selection of the Recipient of the Lewis Award, but we on the Lewis Award Committee are ever grateful for all these educators do for our children and their commitment to our children’s future.”
Monsignor Lewis, Anne, and Colleen
The Lewis Award Committee presented the Lifetime Achievement Award in Education to Anne Williams Stahel for her extraordinary support of and devotion to Catholic school educators.
Anne endowed the Father Gerald Lawrence Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1992 as a way to say thank you in a meaningful way to now Monsignor Lewis for his unfailing support to her family during good times but more importantly being a ballast for them during their times of crisis.* This Award has been honoring teachers and educators across the Raleigh diocese for 25 years. Through Anne’s hard work and the amazing support of the Superintendent and Catholic Schools Office staff the Lewis Award is now part of the fabric of the diocese.
In her comments during the presentation, Dr. Colleen O’Connor Grochowski, newly appointed Chair of the Committee, expressed that
“I have had the honor of working on the Lewis Award for the past 10 years and have witnessed Anne’s devotion to Catholic school educators. I see her face light up and her heart warm every time she observes a teacher in the classroom. I’ve observed her leadership as she addresses principals each year asking for their schools’ participation, and as she guides the committee members through the process of selecting finalists, visiting schools and through the impossible task of selecting the recipient — impossible given the excellence we witness in all our teachers. And I see her joy as she brings us together for the Lewis Award dinner each year and her determination to make the evening meaningful.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who have made extended commitments and significant contributions to Catholic education in the Diocese of Raleigh, and demonstrates notable and ongoing contributions to their family, church and civic communities.
“Who could be more deserving than the person who had a vision and made this Award possible. Anne, we thank you for your ‘notable and ongoing contributions to your family, church and civic communities.’ We thank you for your generosity, your commitment to Catholic education, your energy, and the joy you bring to all you do and all whom you touch.”
*Read more about the friendship of the Stahel family and Monsignor Lewis.