Linda Blackburn stands in the middle of students with banners celebrating her award.

Linda Blackburn stands in the middle of students with banners celebrating her award.

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St. Isaac Jogues teacher wins Amazing Catholic Educator award

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 5, 2023


ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Isaac Jogues fourth grade teacher Linda Blackburn recently won the Amazing Catholic Educator award, and the students and staff couldn’t be more excited.

Blackburn, who has been teaching going on 30 years, said the nomination and the award came as a complete surprise to her.

“Even the day that I actually won the award, they kept it a big secret,” Blackburn said. “And so we watched, it was on Zoom, and we watched and I really had no idea that I was going to be called out.”

After the virtual meeting, Blackburn said they took her to the gym where the entire student body was there waiting to celebrate her and the award. The students were given potato chips as a celebration snack, and they spoke about what they liked about Blackburn. Some had banners in her honor.

Blackburn wanted to mention that though she won the award, she knows there are so many Catholic educators within the Archdiocese of Detroit who deserved the award as well.

“Although I was nominated and I won this award, there are so many excellent Catholic educators that are out in the AOD that it was, it was very kind but there’s other ones that are just as deserving or more than me,” Blackburn said.

Sister Maria Guadalupe, principal at St. Isaac Jogues, said the Catholic Foundation of Michigan offers the awards.

“They begin notifying us I would say at the start of the school year that if there were any Amazing Catholic Educators that we wanted to nominate,” Sister Maria Guadalupe said. “So, each parish or school could nominate one teacher.”

Sister Maria Guadalupe went on to say she started thinking about all of her amazing teachers. She was helped by a few of them who said Blackburn should be nominated for the award.

“I said ‘OK, that confirms it. I’m going to nominate — there’s the one I’m picking for this year is Mrs. Blackburn,’” Sister Maria Guadalupe said.

It was a secret to Blackburn, as Sister Maria Guadalupe said she told the whole school and the parents of Blackburn’s fourth grade class in order to organize the celebration for her.

“We wanted to prepare a worthy celebration for her, so we needed everybody’s involvement, so we kept a pretty good surprise from her, I think,” Sister Maria Guadalupe said.

A chance to nominate teachers for the award was given to all the schools within the Archdiocese of Detroit, an area Sister Maria Guadalupe said stretches approximately from the Ohio border to a little bit north of Port Huron. She said she thinks there’s around 60 to 70 schools within this area.

A total of 12 teachers were given the award in the area which came with a monetary award of $1,000 and a night’s stay at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, now the Saint John’s Resort.

Blackburn said some alumni have sent her congratulations, mostly through Facebook. Some of these alumni have children at the school now.

“I’ve taught their children now so I’ve taught their mothers and fathers and now I have their children in my class,” Blackburn said.

Both Blackburn and Sister Maria Guadalupe said there were other teachers who were nominated and a few won the awards. In 2020 or 2021, Sister Maria Guadalupe said, their language arts teacher won the award.

“Like I said, I never expected any of this because as a Catholic educator we don’t come into this for the monetary awards, let’s put it that way. My award every day is going home and saying what they learned today,” Blackburn said.

Sister Maria Guadalupe said Blackburn was an easy pick for this award due to the way she lives and what she teaches her students.

“One of our mottos here at St. Isaac’s is that we say we are St. Isaac Jogues, where Christ is our teacher,” Sister Maria Guadalupe said. “And in my nomination of her, I said that she does an amazing job of living that and teaching the children that. She brings the faith into everything that she’s doing, and so when the award was for an Amazing Catholic Educator, she was an easy pick for me.”