MASSENA — It was a well-kept secret at Trinity Catholic School — one of its own had been named 2014 Outstanding Catholic School Teacher for the Diocese of Ogdensburg.
“I don’t even know what the process is,” said teacher and assistant principal Michele Bombard, who received the honor and was recognized during a recent luncheon hosted by Bishop Terry LaValley at the bishop’s residence in Ogdensburg. “I was shocked to learn of this development,” said Ms. Bombard, a 27-year member of the school’s staff.
Principal Kathleen Behrens had submitted Ms. Bombard’s name for the honor.
“Michele Bombard possesses all the qualities one looks for in an effective and outstanding teacher. ... She has selflessly served students, colleagues, parents and parishioners; not caring about money, promotions or adulation,” Mrs. Behrens wrote in her nominating letter. “Michele chose a teaching vocation, not a career, only wanting to share the hope and love of Christ in the best way she knows how — as a Catholic school teacher.”
Ms. Bombard said she was honored to have been chosen over many other qualified candidates. The Diocese of Ogdensburg has 12 schools in its region. “It could have been any one of us. No one single person could or should be Teacher of the Year. It would never happen without the support of the wonderful administration and fellow faculty, all of whom are equally as worthy,” she said.
Ms. Bombard holds a bachelor’s degree in history from SUNY Potsdam and a master’s degree in classroom instruction from SUNY Potsdam. She began her teaching career at Trinity Catholic School in 1987. She recalls receiving a phone call from Sister Shirley Anne right after she had finished her student teaching saying that Trinity needed a fifth-grade teacher and asking if she was interested in interviewing.
“I thought, ‘I can do that.’ I didn’t think it would come to anything,” she said. But, once she walked through the doors of the school, Ms. Bombard said she was “hooked.”
In her application for the position, she wrote, “I welcome the opportunity to teach in a school in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. It is the perfect place for me to begin a career as a dedicated teacher. I believe that the caring, Christian environment of a Catholic school inspires both students and teachers to work to full potential in all academic areas and to grow in faith.”
She taught fifth grade at Trinity for more than 20 years before moving to the sixth grade. She currently teaches fifth- and sixth-grade English language arts and social studies. In past years, she has taught math, ELA, social studies and religion in a self-contained fifth-grade classroom.
She has taught as an adjunct instructor at Mater Dei College and social studies methods courses at SUNY Potsdam. She also serves on the Diocesan Curriculum Committee, Diocesan Catholic Schools Mentoring Team and on Bishop LaValley’s newly formed Culture of Vocations Team, and is a presenter at the annual Diocesan New Teacher Orientation program. She has been assistant principal since 2012 at Trinity.
“The highlight of it all is being in an environment where the faculty is like family and parents are supportive. It’s such a faith-filled place. Being able to be part of students’ faith development really is a privilege,” she said.