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Best of the Week 2020-2021: Holy Cross Values


Congratulations to Theology teacher Owen Williams '13, the 2021 recipient of the NHS Br. Majella Hegarty Excellence in Education Award. Since 2014, the St. Ed's chapter of the National Honor Society has recognized one teacher each year with the Br. Majella Hegarty, C. S. C., Excellence in Teaching Award. The award was named after Br. Majella Hegarty, a holy Cross educator who was responsible for the formation of many teachers in the Midwest in the mid-20th century. In the spring, NHS members are invited to nominate the teacher who has had the greatest educational impact on the school community and the winner is chosen by members of the junior and senior classes. "Receiving this award means more to me than words can express," says Mr. Williams. "I've heard a lot about the zeal and empathy that Brother Majella brought to his students each day, and I am humbled to be chosen for this award in his honor. It is especially meaningful to me because it comes from the students, the ones whom I am here to accompany and serve." Having always been drawn to teaching, Mr. Williams says he was called away from pursuing a vocation to the priesthood to instead follow his desire to become an educator. "I am a firm believer that Divine Providence is at the center of what led me back to my alma mater to teach. I had so many inspiring teachers during my four years as a student, and the opportunity to now work alongside them in forming the next generation of Edsmen is a beautiful gift," says Mr. Williams. "One of the most important things I learned as a teacher at St. Ed's came from my former Theology teacher and current teaching partner, Mr. Chris Merriman. When I first started here, I was trying way too hard to be just like him. When I talked to him about it, he simply said, 'You're not here to be like me, you're here to be you.' That has always stuck with me, and has been the single most influential lesson of my teaching life. I've learned to always lead with empathy because teaching is really all about relationships and each day, my students and colleagues teach me more than I could ever dream of teaching them." Acknowledging the inspiration bestowed by his former teachers, from Jim Wallenhorst '74 and Mark Urban to Suzanne Fairfield and Jim Duffy, Mr. Williams' passion for teaching is one he hopes will inspire future Edsmen. "I feel fully empowered to bring my full self to the classroom each day because of the willingness our students have to enter class discussions with earnestness, inquisitive minds, and empathetic hearts. St. Ed's is a community of people who are always seeking to be authentically themselves, always striving for excellence," says Mr. Williams. "For me, teaching to the future means creating a space for students to discover, inquire, seek, question, and ultimately, grow in empathy, vulnerability, and awareness. It's amazing to be a part of a community that continues to challenge itself to be better on all fronts each year. I feel a special connection to St. Ed's; it's like this indescribable feeling of being at home. The people here have helped me find my voice, the one that I use to teach my students today. I owe them all a massive debt of gratitude for always believing in me."

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