CUYAHOGA FALLS — A Walsh Jesuit teacher and administrator for nearly 40 years has received the school’s highest honor.
Stow resident Jane Rafferty, who has been with Walsh Jesuit for 37 years, was recognized in November with The Manresa Award. Also recognized was Norton resident and Walsh Jesuit supporter Frank Somodi.
"I was shocked and stunned," Rafferty said of receiving the award. "I don’t feel as if I’ve done anything extraordinary. I’m just following the Jesuit mission and my faith."
Rafferty said she enjoys being in education.
"I love my job, and I love the students," Rafferty said. "I have never thought of walking into this building as a job. I always enjoyed going to school as a child, now I get to go to school and get paid."
The Manresa Award was first presented in 1991 and has been awarded to 33 recipients since inception, according to information from the school. It is Walsh Jesuit’s highest honor and is named for a town 40 miles northwest of Barcelona, Spain where St. Ignatius of Loyola experienced a spiritual conversion. That experience led to his founding of the Society of Jesus in 1540 and ultimately resulted in the worldwide network of Jesuit-sponsored schools. It was also in Manresa that Ignatius wrote the "Spiritual Exercises," which form the foundation of Jesuit spirituality.
The award is presented to members of the Walsh Jesuit community who are outstanding exemplars of Walsh Jesuit’s mission, men and women for and with others, and who have served selflessly to further the school’s mission over the years, according to information from the school.
"It is the way that Jane has met the thousands of students she has taught that is so inspirational: with her joyful and loving way, she sees the goodness in each and finds a way to draw them closer to the Lord," said Walsh Jesuit’s President Karl Ertle. "Whether as dean or moderator, mother or teacher, she is that woman for and with others."
Rafferty is assistant principal and has served as a math teacher. She added she isn’t teaching classes this year.
"I think I was born with a math brain," Rafferty said.
Her father was an architect, and her grandfather and uncles were engineers at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Rafferty said. In addition, her mother taught math at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.
"My mother had said to me when I was married that teaching and nursing are good fields if you want a family," Rafferty said. "I don’t like blood, so I went into teaching. I enjoy education. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worthwhile. I like interacting with the students. So many of them think they can’t do math, I don’t know where they get it. But I enjoy watching them improve their skills and say ‘I think I’ve got this.’"
Rafferty said all five of her sons attended Walsh Jesuit.
"For me, there is a comfort in being able to talk about my faith," Rafferty said. "The Jesuit method of education really appeals to me. I see the impact that Walsh Jesuit had on [her sons] in their lives, where they work and how they work with people."
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, email@example.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC