Care for the Earth, solidarity with the poor, and a love of Jesus and His mission are the values sought out when determining who will receive the Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Award, granted by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
At the close of the school year, Meg Sharp, mission integration director for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, presented this year's Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Award to Caty Maga, biology and environmental science teacher. In her ten years teaching at the school, Maga has helped cultivate an array of courses within the science department that focuses on the environment and environmental justice.
One of the courses, “Modern Topics in Science: The Environment,” centers on environmental issues of the present day and touches on various topics, whether they are close to home or on a global scale. The class appeals to students from all backgrounds, all with a common interest in improving conditions on the planet.
“When I came to CJ, environmental science was one of the courses that I was assigned to teach,” Maga said, “Over the years I have learned so much more about the environment, specifically what we as humans are doing to affect it, both good and bad. I love seeing my students take some of that forward.”
Maga’s passion for the environment goes beyond classroom lessons. She serves as the advisor to the school’s Environmental Club, which sponsors multiple activities like Green Week and the t-shirt collection drive. Her most recent excursion allowed CJ students to roll up their sleeves and make an instant impact in their own backyard. Students took a quick trip down the road to the Great Miami River during their spring break, where they collected and removed over thirty bags of trash.More Than a Half-Ton of Garbage Removed
“I was excited to host the river cleanup over break, as many students not in the class or club, also participated. I have a passion for this!” said Maga, “However, what keeps feeding my passion is our students who I have worked with through capstone and environmental club. They have immense care and concern for what the environment might be if we do nothing.”
Being a mentor for the senior capstone program has led Maga to make a concrete difference in the CJ community and beyond. A group of students she mentored applied for and received a Miami Valley Recycling Grant, worth over $5,000. This funding enabled Chaminade Julienne to create a clear recycling system school-wide.
These initiatives and Maga’s ability to inspire students to have an immediate impact on the environment are why she was chosen for the Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Award.
Each year, a graduating senior or a faculty or staff member from all Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is eligible to receive this award. Molly Bardine, English teacher, department chair, and Senior Capstone Coordinator noticed Maga’s efforts and submitted her nomination.
“Caty embodies the spirit of Sister Dorothy. She is passionate about the environment and encourages all students to share in this passion.” Said Bardine. “She is joyful in her work with students and embodies the strong faith of Sister Dorothy in all of her work.”
Maga teaches an important lesson: any one person can make a positive impact on the environment that will serve future generations. CJ graduates have taken the lessons and the passion that Maga has modeled to continue this type of research into college. In the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Maga encourages her students to have “Hearts as wide as the world” so that the world can, in turn, care for them.