Students Share Memories of Sisters Impacting Lives

Teacher Appreciation Week was celebrated in May. We asked alumni of the Notre Dame Sisters, from all schools they have served, to share memories of the Sisters as educators. 

Mary (Buglewicz) Duffy was educated by the Notre Dame Sisters from first grade at Assumption School in Omaha to 12th grade at Notre Dame Academy.

“To say that they taught me everything I know is an understatement. These very knowledgeable and religious women taught me problem-solving, creative thinking, how to work with others in a cooperative manner, how to meet the unmet needs in society but above all a love for God and how that love guides my daily actions,” Mary Duffy said.

She mentioned that it would be difficult to single one sister, because they all contributed so much to the woman she is today. “I am so grateful for what I received  from them,” she said.

Other memories were of Sisters who passed away, but whose memory lives on in all of the students they educated.

Sr. Mary Beth Kubesh, ND

Sr. Mary Beth Kubesh, ND

“When I was in fifth grade at Assumption School, Sr. Martin (Mary Beth Kubesh(✝)) believed in using current events to teach the math concept of percentages. She taught us how to compute batting averages during the World Series. Talk about meaningful learning!” remembered Mary Duffy.

Another student of Sr. Mary Beth remembers her fondly, and has something to remember her by. “Sr. Martin was the cook in Dodge when I was in grade school in the early 50’s,” Irma Farrell said. “I used to get out of class by asking to go to the bathroom and go down and visit with her. When names changed she was Sr. Mary Beth(✝), and I still have flowers growing that she gave to me 20 years ago.”  

Nancy (Jacobsen) Nystrom went to St. Adalbert’s with her sisters and brother and graduated in 1960. She had a list of teachers she remembered, but a few memories stand out. 

“Sr. Anthony James(✝) was my 4th grade teacher. She made us very competitive, always had us facing off with one another. I still remember everything she taught us,” Nancy said. “Sr. Regina Prusa(✝) taught 5th grade and taught us all how to crochet.”

Generations across Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas know Sr. Ernestine Havolvic. She has been a beloved teacher at nine schools and a principal at five schools across three states — that’s 51 years of teaching and 31 years as a principal.

Denise Cech was educated by Sr. Ernestine Havlovic at St. John Neumann in Clarkson, Nebraska. “She has a special place in my heart as my seventh grade teacher,” Denise said. “I remember her as being very joyful, patient and caring.”

Pat Mares Wigington also remembers Sr. Ernestine, “I went to Dwight Assumption and have found memories of several sisters. My favorite probably was Sr Ernestine who was my second grade teacher in the 50’s and was there for my first Holy Communion.”

It would be impossible to write about teachers’ influence without mentioning Notre Dame Academy, the school established by the Sisters which educated women in Omaha for nearly 50 years. 

Kathy Daley Peterson said Sr. Margaret Hickey holds a special place in her heart. “She taught us when she was not much older than we were, and we did not realize this until our 50th reunion,” Kathy said. 

“Sister attended and looked the same as ever. We respected her a ton way back in high school and still do. She played the organ at our wedding, and I give her credit for a long, happy marriage. She really has supported all of NDA students in many different ways over the years. We appreciate her so much!”

Rita (Kisicki) Viano remembers her time at Notre Dame as happy years, especially with Sr. Loyola Samek(✝).

“Sr. Loyola taught one of my favorite classes, Dressmaking. Teaching us how to thread a sewing machine was one of the first things we learned.  She taught us an easy way to remember how to accomplish the tricky task by saying to ourselves ‘spool pin, tension, take up and needle’.  Every time I use my sewing machine, I smile as I remember her as I repeat the words to myself.  Even my four daughters know the phrase!”