Once a year, the Archdiocese of Omaha honors a select few educators or administrators for dedicating their lives to education. Anyone who enters the front entrance of Marian, walks ahead 15 feet, and looks up will encounter pictures of four smiling faces: Mary Baker, Tom Baker, Elizabeth Kish, and Connie Cavel. These instructors have received this award in the past, and soon another frame will join them on the wall, even if she feels undeserving.
“It is still hard to comprehend because when I think about the teachers who have received this award in the past, they seemed so experienced, a master of their subject and so well prepared all the time….I don’t feel like this is me,” this teacher said.
On March 31 after Easter Mass concluded, Principal Susie Sullivan ‘80 announced that science department chair Mrs. Sharon Genoways earned the title of Metro Secondary Teacher of the Year. In addition to local fame, Genoways will receive $5,000 and a dinner will be held for her and other recipients of the area in September.
Faculty and students throughout the building adore Genoways. She goes above and beyond her job description to ensure her students feel welcome and achieve their full potentials. “As a freshman this year, I was really intimidated by all of my teachers. I honestly thought they were going to be really strict with their curriculum and offer no leeway with plans or become flexible to help me. Mrs. Genoways really understands that a student might need a little extra aid in order for her to be her best. When I am having a hard time processing anything in my biology class, she has no reservations when it comes to helping me. Mrs. Genoways is like a star in the fact that she can shine really bright for all to see. I am so grateful to have had her this year,” freshman Taylor Arnold said.
Genoways also encourages girls to become excited about science. “I love being in her class! I look forward to it every day because I actually understand physics and love her teaching style. She always is willing to help and really good at what she does!” junior Emma Shoemaker said.
“Mrs. Genoways is one of the best teachers that Marian has. She made learning easier through her funny and down to earth personality. I’m super grateful that I had Mrs. Genoways as a teacher,” senior Eva Drzaic said. Genoways has a special way of connecting to students and creating a fun learning environment.
As Sullivan began talking, several ideas flew through Genoways’s mind. At first she believed students were about to get a “talk” about putting a stop to Field Day meanness. Then she noticed her parents walk in and worriedly thought something was wrong. Soon the rest of her family arrived, and even though Sullivan kept speaking, she no longer could really hear anything. “The entire trip up to the podium is a blur,” she said. She walked to the middle of the gym with the bleachers erupting in cheer behind her.
Genoways obtained this award through nominations sent into the Archdiocese from the Marian community, but she remains humble and insists that her success can be attributed to everyone at Marian.“This award really belongs to the entire faculty, staff and student body. Every single person here is responsible for making Marian what it is. I would not be the person I am today, if back in 1993, former principal Elizabeth Kish hadn’t taken a chance on a brand-new teacher who thought she could teach some science. I am so grateful that I am able to teach in a place where love, kindness, and caring are the norms,” she said.
Even if great teaching and constant selflessness might be a “norm” at Marian, Genoways is valued within and outside the school walls. When Marian students hear, “…confident, indep—” it is almost always finished with a chorus of girls reciting, “—endent, thinking leaders.” It is common knowledge Marian’s staff members strive to prepare students for post-college life as much as possible so they can move on and leave an impact on the world; Genoways reflects this.
“I love it when I meet former students that are super successful in some type of STEM career and attributes it to Marian. My husband always says that he envies me because I am lucky enough to have a job that makes a difference,” she said. Genoways certainly has changed the lives around her and will continue to do so years to come.