Office of Development • 197 Broadway, Norwich, CT 06360 • Phone (860) 886-1928 • Fax (860) 886-2651

 

Bishop Michael R. Cote congratualtes Seton honorees:  Mrs. Robin Holtsclaw, Mr. James Leone. Ms. Sharon Briere

Celebrating Catholic education: 

8th Annual Seton Scholarship Dinner Honorees Announced

 
by:  Kathy Gaito
 
We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, holy days and many other occasions throughout the year. But what could be better than celebrating a discipline that impacts the lives of our youth on a daily basis…Catholic Education! To quote Mr. Henry Fiore, Jr., Diocesan Superintendent of Schools, in an interview he did for the Four County Catholic newspaper:
 
"There are so many advantages of a Catholic education. First and foremost, bringing Jesus, the center of all we do, to the children while providing a solid academic education. In our schools, faith is just not a subject that is taught, but also is lived daily by every employee in every school. You cannot beat the atmosphere of a Catholic school."
 
This sentiment has been echoed by the three individuals who have been selected by Bishop Cote to be this year’s recipients of the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D. Award for Contributions to Catholic Education in the Diocese of Norwich. Ms. Sharon Briere, Principal, St. Joseph School, North Grosvenordale, Mrs. Robin Holtsclaw, Claims/Risk Manager, representing Catholic Mutual Relief Society, and Mr. James Leone, Theology Teacher, St. Bernard School, Uncasville.
 
Ms. Sharon A. Briere is the principal at St. Joseph School, North Grosvenordale and a parishioner at St. Joseph Church.  Growing up in Putnam, Connecticut, Sharon attended local St. Mary’s School as well as Putnam High School.  Sharon attended Eastern Connecticut State University where she double majored in Psychology and Communications and minored in Sociology.  Following her undergraduate degree, Sharon received her Master’s in Education from Sacred Heart University.
 
Throughout her career, Sharon has volunteered on many boards and programs.  Most recently, she was inducted as a member of the Putnam Rotary and the Putnam Lodge of Elks 574 where she sits as the Youth Chair.  Additionally, Sharon serves as a member of the Thompson Early Childhood Council where she works diligently to apply for grants and follow state and federal guidelines to make sure that young students receive the funding to attend PreKindergarten.
 
Before serving as Principal at St. Joseph School, Sharon taught at St. John’s School in Plainfield and St. James School in Danielson. A History and Social Studies teacher, Sharon taught grades 5-8 at St. Joseph School before accepting the principal position in December of 1999.  Over the last eighteen years, Sharon has enjoyed all the various ways that St. Joseph School has been a part of the local community.  While it has been her job, it has been so much more to her than that.  Sharon reflected, 
 
"I am thankful for the community that has embraced me and has allowed me to do the work that God has laid in front of me.  It takes a village of many talents to create a community success, and I am so thankful to be a part of the village that is St. Joseph School, North Grosvenordale."

Mrs. Robin Holtsclaw, representing Catholic Mutual Relief Society, has been working since 1991. Catholic Mutual is the largest provider of risk management and insurance services for the Catholic Church in North America.  Robin began her career with Catholic Mutual assigned to the service office for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  In 1995, she was promoted to the position of Claims/ Risk Manager in the Hartford/ Norwich Service Office.
 
Much of Robin’s work is dedicated to the schools of the Diocese.  In addition to an annual on-site risk assessment to ensure the safety and security of school facilities, Robin reviews all contracts and written agreements related to the Diocesan schools’ activities, athletics, field trips, and more.  This includes providing evidence of insurance coverage, managing transportation risks, permission slips and compliance with Diocesan Risk Management Policies.  In addition, she investigates and handles all property and casualty claims at all locations in the Diocese, including our schools.  “I work closely with all school principals and administrators to restore school property to pre-loss condition when a loss occurs and likewise manage casualty claims to conclusion.  I am here as a resource to help guide our administrators through the entire spectrum of risk and insurance issues. 
 
"What I find most rewarding is fielding the day to day risk management questions from our schools and parishes,"
 
stated Robin.  As a parishioner at Church of the Holy Family, Hebron, Robin served many years as a CRE teacher and Eucharistic Minister.  In 2003, she was invested into the Eastern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem by Edward Cardinal Egan.
 
Mr. James Leone (Jim) is currently a Theology teacher at St. Bernard School, Uncasville, Connecticut.  He graduated from Norwich Free Academy and attended Kent School. From there, Jim continued his education at Trinity College in Hartford, graduating with a degree in Religion/Religious Studies. Jim was fortunate to find his teaching home at St. Bernard School shortly after graduating college, teaching religion. In 2015, Jim was the recipient of the Theodore James Ryken Award for his work at St. Bernard’s and his continued commitment to the values of the Xaverian Brothers. Coming to St. Bernard School also gave him the ability to combine his interest and passion for religion with his desire to work with St. Bernard’s competitive sports teams.  Jim coached football from 1978 to 1989, baseball from 1979 to 2011 and wrestling from 1991 to 2002. In 2011 Jim was the State of Connecticut Assistant Baseball Coach of the Year and recognized as one of the top six assistant coaches nationally that year as well.
 
Jim also took learning beyond the classroom, arranging and leading trips for students to travel to Europe, always including Rome on the travel agenda. Jim expressed, “I wanted to give students an opportunity to see and experience the Church’s center. One special highlight occurred on our first trip when we just happened to be present for the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.” Jim continued,  
 
"In my 40 years of teaching, the thing I most enjoy about my career is being around students to help form and shape their futures.  I like meeting former students and hearing about the direction of their lives after high school.  It is this bond with my past students that brings the most pleasure to me as a teacher, coach and mentor."
 
These three individuals from different backgrounds are making a difference in the lives of the children attending our Catholic Schools. The 2017 Annual Seton Scholarship Dinner is a wonderful way to recognize their contributions to Catholic education. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first U.S. born citizen to be canonized as a saint, credited with bringing Catholic Education to schools in the United States. So as we recognize Ms. Sharon Briere, Mrs. Robin Holtsclaw and Mr. James Leone in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s name, we hope you will join us for the celebration on Sunday, October, 29, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, 55 Bridge Road, Haddam, Connecticut. Please contact Kathy Gaito, Stewardship Coordinator, Diocesan Development Office, at 860-886-1928 ext. 15 or kgaito@norwichdiocese.net for ticket cost and information. All proceeds from the Seton Scholarship Dinner benefit Catholic elementary school students in the form of tuition assistance grants.
 

 

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