Jason Hodges, Class of 1989, gave the following speech at the Spring Matching Fund-raiser in May. It has been edited to fit the space.
Nancy has been a large part of my life since 1985. She handed me my high school diploma. She gave me the job that started my adult working career. She mentored me and signed my pay checks for six years, and she danced in a Flash Mob before officiating my wedding ceremony. Other than my parents and my husband, Nancy has been the biggest influence in my life. I’ve learned so many lessons from Nancy. I want to share three of those with you:
Lesson Number One: Keep it fun.
Anyone who knows Nancy knows that she takes things seriously. Running a nonprofit, running a school is serious business. There’s never enough money, time or people to do it all. Nancy would tell me how she came in at 5 AM to get work done. Despite those sleepless nights, those worries, and concerns, Nancy wanted the work and this place to be fun. There were ice breakers at staff and faculty gatherings.
There was the scavenger hunt during the construction of this building where the faculty and staff had to find objects and places across the new construction in order to gain access to the Christmas Party that year.
She was always trying to find fun things to do at HIPOW to make the event more engaging and more memorable.
Lesson #2: It’s about the little things.
When I worked with Nancy, she was a walking phone book. Nancy was like Siri before Siri was Siri. You could ask her for a phone number and she would know it. She would brag that if she dialed a wrong number, she could pretend like she meant to dial it because she would often know the person she accidentally dialed.
While serving as development director, I wrote A LOT. Newsletters, solicitations letters, brochure copy, and recruitment materials were all given a final edit by Nancy. Jo Schlotfeldt was a crack editor, and even with her eagle eye, invariably something would escape and Nancy would find it on the final pass. Nancy was often more knowledgable about people’s details, including their ZIP Codes, than the expensive database we purchased. She could hold the budget of the schools in her head and still manage to know what year each member of the Stepoviches, Jackoviches, Ringstads, Kellys and Vacuras graduated from Monroe.
On my 16th birthday, which was nearly 32 years ago, right outside the Monroe Principal’s office was a bulletin board. On the morning of my 16th birthday, pinned to the board was a card with my name on it. It was a birthday card from Nancy. I don’t remember the exact words that she had written, but it was something along the lines of “watch out people of Fairbanks, Jason has his driver’s license now!”
It was a small gesture that, almost 32 years later, has more meaning to me now than it did to that 16-year old boy who received it.
Lesson # 3: We’re all human.
When Nancy retired for the first time in 2003, it was very emotional for many of us. We had a final staff meeting where she asked us, “how many people work at the schools?” At the time it was about 60-70 people. She asked us “how many mistakes does a person make in a day.” I think as a group we agreed that 10 mistakes wasn’t out of the question. I’m pretty sure my younger self was throwing off that average back then. She said “that’s about 600 mistakes that will be made on a daily basis.” And that doesn’t even count the ones the kids will be making. As she was leaving, she was telling us: we’re not perfect, and we need to be good to one another. We needed to recognize each of us is prone to messing it up in ways big and small, without any ill intention, AND we need to be able to treat each other with love, compassion, acceptance, and understanding. We need to remember we’re all human.
And Nancy knows this better than anyone because Nancy is also so very human. She sometimes loses her patience. She drives too fast to the lake, which has elicited speeding tickets in the past. She sometimes curses in ways that would make a truck driver say, “hey now, Nancy, you gotta check yourself.”
There are so many people, so many students who have been the recipients of her love, compassion, and understanding. Kids who got themselves into trouble and had no where else to turn, people like myself who were struggling with identity who needed acceptance.
Families who were on the edge and couldn’t afford to be here. Nancy helped, intervened, and championed those who needed it most.
Many of these stories will go untold and remain in the hearts of those who benefitted. When she shared compassion with those who most needed, even at times when some might not have approved, guess what? The world didn’t come to an end. And those who needed that love, understanding, and acceptance received and incredible gift.
I left the CSF family in 2005 after nearly 12 years of service. I found another organization and cause—the performing arts—that I was equally passionate about. For the last 14 years, I’ve had the honor of bringing musicians, singers, and performers of all stripes from across the world to Alaska. My favorite part of my job is at the end of a show, after the last song has been sung, after the last note has been played, and as the performers take their bow, the audience rises to its feet, clapping and expressing their gratitude and appreciation for a job well done.
Nancy has performed her roles—teacher, principal, director—with virtuosity and skill. She has served the students, parents, teachers, these schools, and the entire community. It is only fitting that we rise to our feet and express our gratitude and appreciation for a job well done.
In Our Thoughts
Barb McCaleb, long-time CSF teacher and mother of eight Monroe Alumni–Frances, Lori, Patrick, Janet, Lin, Christine, Murphy, and Tracy–passed away in June.
Christina (Winfree) ‘04 and Gary Woodward welcomed baby Harper Kathleen in April.
Aimee (Laurencelle) Iverson ‘07 and husband Paul welcomed Kinsley Grace in May.
John Jones ’11 and wife Victoria welcomed baby Scarlett. The family lives in Seattle. Monroe teacher Megan Jones ‘09 is an aunt!
Grainne (Brosnan) Bonestroo ‘04 and husband Robert (who teaches at Monroe) welcomed baby boy Ryker in June.
Ben and Megan (Anderson) Koch ‘02 greeted little Lottie in July.
Weddings & Engagements
Suzette Brosky ‘81 and Bill Bidwell said their vows.
Elise Tamai ‘05 wed Luke Bonnewell.
Krystal Audie (ICS) married Brook Ala. The couple resides in Kenai.
Hilary Kjera ‘11 married Graham Hood.
Connor Kelliher ‘07 and Kristin Fleming tied the knot. The couple lives in San Francisco.
Gloria Compeau ‘78, B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Katie Andrews ‘93, Master in Social Work from West Virginia University.
Sierra Minder ‘10, Law Degree from Gonzaga University.
Mariah Minder ‘10, M.D. from the University of Washington.
Cassandra Ringstad ‘11, Master in Education from Point Loma Nazarene U.
Claire Hughes ‘13, B.A. in Biological Sciences from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Nick Fleming ‘14, U.S. Air Force Academy graduate.
Mary Barnard ‘14, B.A. in Psychology from University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Michael Neville ‘14, B.A. in Business Administration from Eastern Washington University.
Tyler Wells ‘14, B.A. in Business Administration with a Minor in Sport Management from Concordia University.
Ciara Newman ‘15, B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. Ciara is headed to Penn State for her master’s degree.
Abigail Swallow ‘15, University of Idaho, Elementary Education.
Kayla Rauenhorst ‘15, nursing degree from University of Portland.
Andrew Walter ‘15, B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from St. Martin’s University. Andrew has more big news: he and Katie McCurry (ICS alum) wed in June.
Olivia Hrinko ‘15, B.A. in Interior Design with a Minor in Architecture from the University of Idaho.
Andi Clark ‘15, B.A. in Business Administration from Gonzaga University.
JT Minder ‘15, B.S. in Engineering Management /Civil Engineering from Gonzaga University.
Rachel Adams ‘15, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Physics from the University of Dayton. She will go on to a PhD program in Electronic Materials through Ohio State University.
August 14 - Back to School Social
5:30 to 7 p.m.
August 15 - Running of the Rams
This is the 3rd annual 5K. Everyone is welcome! Registration is open now: http://catholic-schools.org/ramrun. Race starts at 6:30 p.m.
August 19 - First Day of School September 20 & 21 - Super Sale
This HUGE garage sale raises funds for the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks. We are collecting donated items now. Bring them anytime Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the Monroe Foundation Office - 718 Betty St.
Oct. 11 - HIPOW GCI Family Night
This is a fun event for the whole family. Cookies are provided by Walsh, Kelliher and Sharp and pizza is available for purchase. Free admission and on-site babysitting. Get your flu shot at HIPOW! (free with most insurance). Doors open at 5 p.m. Oral auction starts at 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 - 50th HIPOW Auction & Dinner
Tickets are available now for Saturday’s Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Black Tie Dinner. Visit hipowauction.com or call (907) 456-7970. Don’t wait too long! The ticket price increases from $125 to $150 on September 14.
In January of this year, we introduced Magis Houses at the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks with a huge unveiling in the gym and a day of activities. Students from across all grade levels were assigned to one of 13 Magis Houses named after Catholic Saints. Mrs. Kathleen Balko, our religion director, helped the school develop the plan for these houses. “The idea came from former CSF PACE teachers who attended Catholic schools with “houses.” I loved the idea of everyone belonging to their own pre-K through 12 family inspired by a particular saint.”
The word magis means “more” or “greater” in Latin. To further describe the word, it means to do more, to be more, to strive to do better in all that we do–not just for ourselves, but for the greater good.
The goal of Magis Houses is to help further create a sense of community and belonging in our schools. Each house includes students from pre-K through 12th grade and two or three staff members. Students will stay with their Magis House throughout their entire tenure at our schools. Besides sitting together for all school Masses, students are grouped by Magis House for special activities throughout the year. There is an emphasis on older students mentoring younger students.