Alumna of the Year
The Alumna of the Year Award is presented annually to an outstanding alumna of Maryvale. Nominations may be submitted by anyone who knows the nominee — alumna, family or friend. A committee comprised of the Director of Advancement, Director of Reunion and Gift Planning and the executive committee of the Alumnae Association will determine the recipient of the award. All nominees must demonstrate the following characteristics:
- Service to Maryvale is the top criterion.
- No alumna may be considered for selection until 10 years after graduation.
- The nominee must have been or still be involved with the school as an advocate, benefactor, including but not limited to, the Alumnae Association, the Board of Trustees, annual giving, endowments, capital campaigns or as a faculty or staff member or coach.
- The recipient must be a well respected member of her community as a professional or volunteer.
- The committee must give consideration for the recipient’s future involvement and/or development in the school’s long-range plans.
Please send your Alumna of the Year nominations to:
Libby Bagli Nagle '72
Director of Reunion and Gift Planning
Maryvale Preparatory School
11300 Falls Road, Lutherville, MD 21093
2018 Alumna of the Year: Sr. Catherine Phelps, SNDdeN '49
Alumna of the Year Sr. Catherine Phelps, SNDdeN '49 (middle) smiles for the camera with her sisters on the Castle Terrace following the Jubilee Luncheon on Friday, May 4, 2018
Betty Mae Phelps (or as we know her, Sr. Catherine Phelps) was among the first students to attend Maryvale when the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur opened the school in 1945. It was on this campus where Sr. Catherine felt called to become a member of the Sisters of Notre de Namur, and pursue a life of service and education.
When she joined the SND’s in 1949, Sr. Catherine moved to Howard County to train as a novice at the Convent on the grounds of Trinity School. After two and a half years of training, she made her final vows in 1952. Sr. Catherine was first assigned to teach elementary school at St. Martin’s Parish School in Washington, D.C. During this time, in addition to teaching, she continued her studies toward an undergraduate degree at Trinity College in Washington, D.C., earning a bachelor’s in Education. She then served at St. Martins for nine years, where her administrative and leadership skills were quickly recognized. Later, she was transferred back to Maryvale where she taught eighth grade and also served as principal of the Lower School for five years.
A former Alumna of the Year recipient, Kathi Malon O’Conor, fondly recalls Sr. Catherine as her eighth-grade teacher. She recently wrote: “Sr. Catherine guided us with a firm spirit but warm heart. She had a great sense of humor and you could tell at times it was hard for her not to laugh at our hi-jinks. We were a class full of energy and sometimes naughty...and she was a fair judge and jury.”
“Sr. Catherine emphasized 'we were ladies' but she also stressed that we were to be 'smart, strong ladies'...it was perfectly acceptable to beat the boys in spelling bees or Math contests and whip them in dodge-ball on the playground. She always cheered us on. She had a fervent devotion to the Blessed Mother, which became part of our daily prayer lives and stays with me to this day. She prepared us so well for high school, academically and emotionally, and sent us off to the Castle with hope, hugs and promise for our futures.”
Sr. Catherine has positively impacted so many students – both at Maryvale and the Trinity School in Ellicott City, where she is currently the principal, a position that she has held for the past 47 years.
If you ask anyone, "What comes to mind when you think of Trinity School,” the answer will be Sr. Catherine.
The results of Sister’s leadership at Trinity are impressive. In 1987, Trinity School was one of the first seven Catholic schools to receive accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association of Independent Maryland Schools. In 1989 and then again in 1999, Trinity School was the recipient of a Blue Ribbon of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Education. In 1989, Sr. Catherine was honored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and in 1992, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce named her “Educator of the Year.”
Sr. Catherine, who is very active in the community, has served as a key member of the Maryvale Board of Trustees since 2012; her focus continues to be mission enhancement. She is a valuable ambassador at Maryvale events and helps recruit students to her alma mater.
We are proud to honor Sr. Catherine Phelps, Class of 1949, as the 2018 Alumna of the Year.
~ Presented during the Class of 2018 Alumnae Association Induction Ceremony on Friday, May 4 2018 by Sr. Edithann C. Kane, SNDdeN, a member of Maryvale's Board of Trustees