One of Buffalo's own received recognition for her years of dedicated service to Catholic education. Nancy DiBerardino, administrative assistant for the diocesan Catholic School's Department, received the Lighting the Fire for Education Award from the Catholic School Administrators Association of New York State in November.
The award is presented to Catholic school leaders with a commitment to excellence who are active in a school office or Catholic educational organization.
DiBerardino has a 35-year career in Catholic education. She began as a receptionist for the Catholic Schools Department. Then she became secretary for Jerry Stockman, then director of athletics.
"He taught me everything about sports that I needed to know," she said.
From there she moved to administrative assistant and coordinator of elementary sports. In her role as coordinator for elementary sports, she works closely with the current athletics director, Brian Kiszewski. She handles concerns from coaches and principals who need to know such things as, "Can fifth-graders play on a varsity team?" and "Can we play on a Sunday?" The answer to both questions is yes.
With basketball season in full swing, DiBerardino has a full workload doing behind the scenes work that enables games to be played.
"I am invoicing all the schools' league fees. I am collecting rosters, verifying all the rosters to make sure there are eligible players on the rosters," she said.
As the only administrative assistant in the Catholic Schools Department she handles whatever is thrown her way, like processing high school transcript requests for students of closed schools who are going back to college or seeking employment.
When principals call her with questions like, "I have a student who came from public school who's in sixth-grade and doesn't know how to read. What can we do to assist this student?" DiBerardino has to know the answer or find someone who does.
"It's for the kids and the principals," she said simply. "I've built relationships with a lot of our principals. I want to see them succeed. I want to see their schools succeed. I'm there to help them when they're having a bad day, or if they have a question, don't know who to turn to, they'll call me and I'll find the answer for them. I enjoy assisting and helping people."
"She is definitely one who works quietly behind the scenes, keeps things running smoothly," wrote Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Buffalo, in a nomination letter.
DiBerardino, herself has remained modest of the recognition. She even skipped the awards ceremony in Albany to attend a family event.
"It's wonderful, but I feel there must be someone who deserves it more than me. This is my job. This is what I was hired to do," she said.