Eileen O’Connor principals saintly story

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You may have seen in The Daily Telegraph a story about their Top Teachers Campaign? The Telegraph asked for parents and students to nominate ‘Top Teachers’ who have “gone above and beyond for their students during these challenging times,” with a huge response from across New South Wales.

One of those teachers nominated was Gail Story.

Gail Story, principal of Eileen O’Connor Catholic College at Lewisham, was nominated as one of NSW Top Teachers.

The principal of Eileen O’Connor Catholic College at Lewisham has been previously featured in Connect and in The Catholic Weekly for her work at the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s only school which offers a learning environment specifically for students with moderate intellectual disability in a Catholic environment.

Gail’s nomination read:

“Gail is a wonderful leader, has been consistently supportive of staff, parents and students. We are a special needs school, so not as easy to navigate as a mainstream school. Gail has had to juggle staff, management, parents and her wellbeing. She hasn’t wavered once in her decisions. Very open to conversations and transferred relevant important information to all of us. Feel blessed to be working with / for a wonderful professional. Gail’s resilience and ability to lead shone at all her Zoom meetings. We are lucky to have Gail as our leader. Thank you.”

The school Gail oversees is named in honour of Australia’s saint-in-waiting Eileen O’Connor: Portrait of Eileen O’Connor by Norman Carter, 1920

“All I try to do is my best,” said Gail, speaking about the nomination. “No one really knew what to expect during this pandemic period, so you just do the best you can.”

Gail also said it was lovely to be nominated and thanked her fellow staff for their help, saying she had relied on them the whole way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school Gail oversees is named in honour of Australia’s saint-in-waiting Eileen O’Connor and her strength, determination and charity serves as a constant inspiration for the students.

Eileen suffered from a debilitating illness for most of her short life and was constantly in pain. Despite this she served the poor tirelessly and founded the religious order Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor in Coogee.

In February more than 1000 people filled St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney for the official opening of the cause for beatification and canonisation of Eileen O’Connor, beginning the process for Australia’s next possible saint.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP takes his oath of office presiding over the cause for beatification and canonisation of Servant of God Eileen O’Connor in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. Photo: Archdiocese of Sydney

Another Top Teacher nomination for the Archdiocese of Sydney went to Lynn Jackson, nominated by a student of hers at St. Finbars Catholic Primary School Sans Souci.

“Mrs. Jackson has taught all three of us over the years and always goes above and beyond for all her students. In 2020 she sent a handwritten letter to all her year four students telling them all how much she misses them and can’t wait to see their smiling faces. She also made reference to say hi to our mum and dad. Mrs. Jackson also emailed every family to see how we are all going.”