Four Teachers Honored with 2014 Profile Award

Posted May 27, 2014 / Last updated June 5, 2014

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(From left) Gary Wyss, who teaches English; Joe Caluda, director of bands and chairman of the fine arts department; Nilda Rivera, a member of the modern foreign languages department; and Andrew Dykema, also a member of the modern foreign languages department.

(From left) Gary Wyss, who teaches English; Joe Caluda, director of bands and chairman of the fine arts department; Nilda Rivera, a member of the modern foreign languages department; and Andrew Dykema, also a member of the modern foreign languages department.

Four Jesuit High School teachers were recently honored as recipients of the 2014 Profile of a Jesuit Teacher Award, an annual recognition of faculty excellence during the school year. Teachers are nominated by their colleagues against the standard of being Open to Growth, Religious, Loving, Intellectually Competent, Professionally Competent, and Committed to Justice. In addition to a commemorative plaque, each teacher received $2,500. This year’s recipients are: Gary Wyss, who teaches English; Joe Caluda, director of bands and chairman of the fine arts department; Nilda Rivera, a member of the modern foreign languages department; and Andrew Dykema, also a member of the modern foreign languages department.

Joe Caluda and Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald, S.J.M. Joseph Caluda, Jr.

Joe Caluda is being honored for the energy, dedication, and diligence that he has provided Jesuit for 22 years. Joe has enthusiastically directed the marching band, the concert band, and the Phils’ play band. Joe’s musical presence is felt all year long: on the football field in the fall, in the stands at numerous sporting events, in Mardi Gras parades, at Celebration, and at last on graduation night. His leadership has provided the Jesuit community with spectacularly orchestrated entertainment at Jesuit’s Christmas and spring band concerts. Thirteen years ago Joe initiated an exchange program with the Clavius Gymnasium School in Bambert, Germany. Joe’s organization, patience, and persistence in executing this program have resulted in an expanded cultural experience not only for our band members but for the entire student body as well. In alternate years Joe has provided the leadership to find host parents for our partner German exchange students. He has also organized many Mardi Gras band trips to Disney World. Every August Joe sacrifices time away from his family to direct band camp for a week in Thibodeaux. He knows that both the bonding experience and the focused hard work of camp will yield excellence. And it is that high standard of excellence that has earned the Blue Jay Band and its drum majors numerous band competition accolades. Joe’s musical and artistic knowledge has helped prepare Jesuit Quiz Bowl teams for competitions. Diverse in his educational focus, Joe is chairman of the Fine Arts Department and also a member of the Social Studies and Modern Foreign Language departments. Several years ago Joe resurrected Jesuit’s German language and culture elective. Joe assists with the school’s recruiting program and can often be seen leading perspective students and their families on a tour of the school. Joe’s professionalism, his flexibility and openness, his energy, and his love of teaching make him an outstanding Ignatian educator.

Andy Dykema and Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald, S.J.Andy Dykema

Andy came to Jesuit four years ago and next year will serve as Chairman of the Modern Foreign Language Department. Since coming to Carrollton and Banks, Andy has been in the technological forefront, using J.A.Y.S.O.N. and various Google programs to grab the attention of his Spanish students. He brings a high level of passion and professionalism to his teaching, communicating the high expectations he has for his students and setting a tone conducive to learning in a classroom typically full of tech-savvy students. Being Open to Growth, he brings an extremely positive attitude to all that he does by recognizing the intrinsic benefit of the task at hand and focusing on it. Andy is committed to his own professional development here at Jesuit through RBT, the development of his students, and the mentoring of his professional colleagues. Andy has taken on a large array of responsibilities in addition to his classroom duties. He co-moderates the National Honor Society and the Spanish club, coordinates the District and State Rallies, is a regular participant in the Big J Read, and during the Thanksgiving Drive serves as the official interpreter for the Spanish-speaking families in Jesuit’s neighborhood. In this past year he coordinated an additional 10 baskets for the Spanish Club and the National Honor Society. He also encourages and organizes various service opportunities for the National Honor Society. One often sees Andy coming down the hallway with a huge smile on his face and engaged in animated conversation with students or other colleagues. If you find yourself in a small group with Andy, his positivity will make your job a little bit easier. We are pleased to recognize Andy as an Ignatian educator and hope we are fortunate enough to have him on our faculty for many years to come.

Nilda Rivera and Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald, S.J.Nilda Rivera

Nilda Rivera has been an effervescent member of Jesuit’s faculty for the past four years. She has completely committed herself to Jesuit’s mission and to our students. In short, she is all in! There is hardly an athletic competition or co-curricular event, dance or concert that Nilda does not attend. Nilda is very passionate about her classes. She regularly pursues professional development and tries new technologies in her classroom. She has successfully incorporated iPads into her teaching repertoire and makes regular use of the language lab for an integrated approach to learning Spanish. Nilda carefully nurtures each student, finding the good in each and encouraging his very best. Nilda supports the school’s religious formation of its students through her devoted commitment to the Kairos program, assisting in a loving way on nearly every Kairos retreat. She cultivates her own personal prayer life and promises to pray for each student in the months following a retreat. Nilda has been instrumental in the vast over-haul of the National Honor Society, making it a vibrant student organization with an effective leadership structure and clear vision. She also gives back to the school in many other ways such as being a member of the Ignatian Identity Team, assisting the Philelectic Society, and being the co-moderator for both the Spanish Club and Spanish Honor Society. Nilda somehow finds time to also participate in international service trips each summer in response to social issues involving the underprivileged. In a very short time Nilda has become an integral part of the Jesuit community. She has made many personal sacrifices to give herself to Jesuit. Her energy, enthusiasm, and caring heart are inspirational. We are proud to recognize Nilda as an outstanding Ignatian educator.

Gary Wyss and Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald, S.J.Gary Wyss

Gary Wyss has served Jesuit for eight years. He is Jesuit’s “renaissance man.” Consummate English teacher, bowling coach, moderator, astute mentor, collaborative and generous colleague, service project and retreat chaperone, award winning writer, and RBT master just begin to describe Gary. Anyone who knows Gary well knows that he is a humble, life-long learner who values both service and professional development. He brings openness, passion, and a spirit of generosity to whatever he does. When a need arises in our community, when a call goes out, Gary can be counted on to answer. When the first group of faculty members travelled to Massachusetts for the initial RBT class, Gary eagerly stepped forward. When the English department needed an AP or a Creative Writing teacher, he signed on. When Jesuit’s bowlers needed a moderator, Gary took on the challenge first with the Bowling Club for five years and then the varsity team for one year. Other organizations to benefit from Gary’s leadership have been the Frisbee Golf Club and Calliope, which he co-moderated this past year. Gary has embraced Jesuit’s service project program, once traveling to Peru and this summer to Costa Rica with our juniors. Gary has also served as a new-teacher Mentor for four years. Whether in homeroom, his classroom, or the English department office, Gary exhibits a graceful professionalism that is flexible, creative, intellectually rigorous, witty, and always respectful of others’ opinions. Gary welcomes diversity and seeks to understand each student’s point of view, creating numerous opportunities for his students to freely express their opinions. He encourages his students to be reflective, to consider the “why” and “how” and not just the “what.” Gary himself should be a separate story in his award-winning short story collection How, “How to be an outstanding Ignatian educator.”