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Faculty Spotlight: Meet Union Catholic's Patty Nuwer

In Union Catholic's latest Faculty/Staff Spotlight Series, we shine the spotlight on Patty Nuwer.
 
Faculty/Staff Member: Patty Nuwer
 
How many years have you worked at Union Catholic?
 
18+ years (Sept. 2001-2002 & then Sept. 2004-present)
 
What year did you graduate from Union Catholic? 

2001
 
What was it about Union Catholic that made you want to be a student here? 
 
I had been to some events because I had an older sister, Ms. Meg Nuwer ’98 (Director of Student Support Services), who was already attending Union Catholic, and everyone was always so welcoming and friendly and I really felt the spirit of community alive at UC. 
 
In what ways do you feel Union Catholic helped shape the person you are and prepare you for life after high school? 
 
Even though UC did not officially state core values back when I was a student, it was very evident that the same values existed back then (community, compassion, respect, responsibility, honesty). They were emphasized and modeled by the faculty and staff. I believe that these values molded my life because they are my personal values as well.
 
Activities (sports, clubs etc.) that you were part of in high school?
 
Service Club Executive Board member, Forensics, Environmental Club, Respect for Life Club, Big Sister Program, Literary Magazine Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society
 
What town did you live in when you were a student at UC? 
  
New Providence
 
College/colleges you attended, your major, and the years you graduated?
 
College of Saint Elizabeth (now Saint Elizabeth University) in Morristown, NJ; I majored in Spanish; graduated in 2005
 
What other job or jobs did you have (if any) before you started working at Union Catholic?  
 
None. I actually worked at Union Catholic summers when I was in high school helping with the bookstore. I continued that my freshman year of college, working in the bookstore and doing other miscellaneous tasks. Just before the pandemic started in December 2019, I started a part-time job too as a skate guard at Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown, NJ. 
 
Could you list your job responsibilities at UC, past and present? 
 
Past: I taught Spanish on a part-time basis until June 2013.
Past: I was in charge of the Bookstore from 2006 until June 2021.
Present: Library Supervisor
Present: NHS Adviser & Peer Tutoring Program Coordinator
Present: Student Support Services Assistant
     
How long have you served as the National Honor Society Advisor and what do you love so much about serving in that role? 
 
This is my 16th year as NHS Adviser. There are two things I really love about it. One, I love seeing the students at the NHS Induction ceremony. When I look out and see the students about to be inducted, I think of how they have all contributed immensely to the UC community. Not only have they achieved academic success, but so many of the students are ones that I have already encountered at UC offering to lend a helping hand whenever needed and trying their best to make UC and our world a better place. I am very proud of them for their hard work and their efforts. 

Secondly, as part of their NHS commitment, our NHS students serve as peer tutors to help students with subjects if they are struggling with a particular class. I am so happy when I hear that a tutor has been able to explain the material so the student understands it and is able to raise his/her grade in the class and gain confidence. It’s win-win. The tutor has made a difference, the student is able to find his/her class more manageable, and they have both made a new friend…I am really thrilled when I see it work out this way! 
 
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen at UC since you went to school here?  
 
They took out the pool on the third floor…just kidding! Although now there really is an elevator to get to the second floor. 
 
I was actually part of the very first class that had laptops at UC. We all connected with a thousand wires to a hub in the classroom. Times have certainly advanced with technology, and UC has always been on the cutting edge of technological advances. 
 
What do you love the most about at UC? What makes this place so special to you?
 
Everything and everyone! I love seeing all of the ways in which the spirit of Jesus is present in word and deed throughout the building each and every day. It is very special seeing our students and fellow staff members strive to follow in His footsteps by treating others with kindness and compassion. UC is such a warm and supportive environment. 
 
Did you always plan to come back to UC and work here? Tell me about how you wound up back at UC?
 
No, it actually wasn’t in my plans. My older sister (Meg) was already working here, but I didn’t really plan to follow in her footsteps. However, sometimes the best things in life are ones that are not planned in advance. And we never can tell when God’s grace is acting in our lives and helping to chart our journeys. 
 
What are some of your favorite memories during your time as a student at UC?
 
Forensics team trips 
 
The laughter & the sonrisas (smiles) when Pepe and Rosa visited Señor Zehnle’s Spanish class.
 
“Facing the trees” as a student in Mrs. McManus’s world studies class (Added note: We still all need to take the time to face the trees. God’s creation is truly beautiful!)

Being a Teacher Assistant in former Assistant Principal Mr. Marotti’s math class when I was a senior.

Participating in UC’s Christmas show as a narrator for the Christmas pageant when I was a senior. It was so much fun to be involved even though I wasn’t a member of the choir or band. The holiday spirit was absolutely contagious!
 
What are your fondest memories since you started working at UC? 
 
I have a lot of special memories, so I am going to stick with sharing only one that really meant so much to me. Mrs. Donegan had started a project in her freshman Writing class in February 2018 in which students were “on a secret mission to drop random acts of kindness on unsuspecting people throughout the building” according to what Mrs. Donegan had shared at the time in a news article. So the students wrote and delivered cards and notes and surprised people with random acts of kindness. The plan was to tie it in with some reflective writing assignments afterwards. She repeated the project the following year, and in 2019, I was the happy recipient of a random act of kindness. I received a wonderful card that was made by two of our current seniors and a packet of hot chocolate mix. The card said something about the bookstore experience being more than just about getting books…it was the nicest thing! It truly made my day!! Mrs. Donegan had stated, “I want my students to feel how nice it is to make someone happy through a random act of kindness.” Well, guess what? Gigantic thank you to the two freshmen (now seniors) who surprised me with that random act of kindness. You most certainly succeeded in making me happy! And another big thank you to Mrs. Donegan for the idea. I was so very happy to be a recipient of a random act of kindness…you brought a huge smile to my day!!
 
List any awards/achievements you’ve earned while you were a student at UC? 
 
4th place at 2 Newark Catholic Forensic League meets in Varsity Oral Interpretation; 4th place at a Newark Catholic Forensic League meet in Declamation; 4th place Oral Interpretation of Prose Dumont High School Speech & Drama Tournament 2001
Rider University Foreign Language Forensic Tournament Spanish Oral Recitation & College Bowl Team Winner
Archdiocese of Newark Pro-Life Essay/Poetry Contest Award Winner
National Merit Finalist (PSAT)
Class Valedictorian
 
What are you most proud of when you reflect on your years as a student/faculty member here at UC?      
 
It’s not something that I accomplished individually that I am most proud of…I am most proud of our community, and I am proud to have been a part of it both as a student and as a faculty member. I am proud of everything our students and staff have accomplished, and I am even more proud of the tremendous spirit that is alive at UC each day. It is evident that people care about each other and are living out Jesus’s call to "love your neighbor as yourself". Our UC neighborhood has a lot of love that shines through each day in both the big and small acts of kindness that are seen around the building. 
 
I heard that you volunteer for the Learn to Skate Program. How, why, and when did you get involved with the program?
 
The arena where I usually skate (Mennen Sports Arena) was offering a free skating class in celebration of the nationwide Nickelodeon Day of Play. I think that was a little over 6 years ago. They needed extra volunteers for that. The skating director at the time saw how much I enjoyed helping with that and that led right into my volunteering to help with the Mennen Arena LTS program on a consistent basis, not just for a special event. Why? Skating has brought me a lot of joy and smiles, I wanted to be able to pass that along…a gift that keeps on giving! This is my 3rd year also volunteering with Essex Special Skaters at Codey Arena. This program is designed to teach children and adults with special needs how to ice skate. My coach was one of the coaches who headed the program, and it was so awesome to get involved with that. I have met so many incredible people, both who volunteer with and participate in the program. 
 
What do you love the most about being part of the Learn to Skate Program, and what exactly is your role? Are you teaching young kids how to skate? 
 
I love when I see the kids excited to skate, thrilled to be learning a new skill…the enthusiasm is contagious. I love to see when a skater does something that he/she never thought was possible. It’s the small steps that can be the biggest accomplishments. Give a smile, get a smile…it’s just win-win. I enjoy encouraging them to give it their all and not give up…that’s not unique to LTS, it’s a great motto for all things in life. Just this past September I actually went through the steps to become an official coach in the LTS program, but right now I’m just assisting. I usually get to help the skaters in the class that need a little bit of an extra hand, so I get to cheer them on too. It’s amazing how much progress and improvement I see in our skaters over time…I am so happy to see them gaining confidence and having fun. 
 
What is your background in skating? Have you been skating for a long time, did you compete in figure skating? 
 
I started skating as an adult. It was something I always wanted to do as a child, but I never really had a chance. I went skating twice when I was a child- once outdoors and once at Mennen Sports Arena. I really loved it, so I always wanted to be a figure skater. I watched skating on TV as a child…now I’m too busy to follow it much, I’d rather have the time to be on the ice myself. It just goes to prove that it’s never too late to follow a dream. I started taking a group skating class in July 2012. I had skated some public sessions before that beginning in late summer of 2007 sporadically until summer of 2012. Once I started with the group lessons, I was permanently a skating fanatic. I’ve really mostly only done a few local competitions, and I have tested free skate, moves in the field, solo pattern dance, and solo free dance and have also done a few shows. My favorite competition memory took place in February 2020, when I competed at the NJ Special Olympics Winter Figure Skating Competition in unified pairs. There was such a tremendous spirit at that competition…everyone was cheering on everyone else and there was such a fabulous camaraderie. 
 
Aside from skating, tell me something about yourself that most people don’t know? Something that would surprise people- a hidden talent or hobby or a unique skill you have? 
 
Let’s see…before I started skating I used to write a lot of poems, mostly religious poem prayers. I always enjoyed making things rhyme from the time I was a young child. But I’d rather do something active, so I don’t write anymore. Now I just sometimes compose in my head rather than writing down the words when I pray silently to God. I always wish I had gotten involved in performing arts at UC…I’m generally a quiet person, but I do enjoy singing and dancing, and a part of me likes to perform. I’m not any good at it, but I enjoy playing basketball too. 
 
Favorite thing to do in your spare time (other than skating)? 
 
I think skating takes up all of my spare time. From the time I set foot on the ice, I loved the feeling of gliding smoothly and freely. Being able to spin, jump, do twizzles, it’s just an exhilarating feeling for me. Although I really do enjoy volunteering when I can with things other than skating too. I had the opportunity to help with an iCan Bike camp (teaching kids with special needs learn how to ride a bike), and that was another fantastic experience. The one thing I have learned over the years is that I may start doing a volunteer activity with the hope that I can make a difference in the life of someone else, but in the end, I myself have been the one who has reaped the greatest reward. 
 
Favorite UC Core Value and why? 

Compassion: We can all make such a difference if we just treat others with kindness and compassion. Compassion is alive in the halls of UC each day in even the simplest acts of kindness. I can’t tell you how much my life has been touched by people showing that they care. To use the words from the song “Hands” by Jewel, “In the end, only kindness matters.” 
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