An educator first, last, and always! After graduating from Dominican College in the early 1960s, Nancy began teaching at Hunter’s Point, San Francisco. In an area of deep poverty, she saw firsthand the importance of providing educational opportunities for children.
It was also during this time that she saw religious life as a credible path for a young woman to explore. She was attracted by the spirituality of St. Julie, which focused on the goodness of God and on education for justice, and by the internationality of the Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. Nancy entered the novitiate in 1966, joining two of her three sisters who were already in the convent.
There aren’t many people who have been able to successfully teach primary, junior high and college students! Sister Nancy taught first and eighth grades at Sacred Heart, Saratoga, first grade at St. John School in Folsom and eighth grade again at Notre Dame School in Chico. She then continued with her own education, and earned a master’s degree in religious education and a PhD in education.
During the 11 years she served at College of Notre Dame (now Notre Dame de Namur University) as supervisor and teacher, Sister enjoyed mentoring and encouraging many young men and women in their first years in the classroom. Nearly every school in the Bay Area has at least one teacher, intern or administrator who graduated from Notre Dame de Namur University, and Sister Nancy guided and encouraged many of them. “I often run into former students in stores in the area,” she said. “It is thrilling to see the professional leadership they have assumed in their schools and districts.” As professor in the Education Department for another 12 years, she especially enjoyed creative team planning with Judi Greig and Joanne Rossi, designing projects in the same way they wanted the teacher candidates to use with their students.
As Director of Mission Integration, Sister Nancy worked with all the California learning communities, assisting administrators, faculty and staff in the Notre Dame-sponsored schools in California in their efforts to integrate the “Hallmarks of a Notre Dame Education” into everyday life and learning. Inspired earlier by Vatican II documents that recognized the significant role of the laity in the church, she has always valued and learned a great deal from Notre Dame’s partners in mission.
Another collaborative effort she led with representatives from the Notre Dame de Namur schools, was organizing two excellent all-school convocations, one in San Jose and one in Belmont. Hallmark retreats have energized members of the administrations, faculties and staff who have shared their own faith, classroom experiences and good ways of making core values of a Notre Dame de Namur Catholic education come alive in our schools.
The first hallmark, “We proclaim by our lives even more than by our words that God is good” is certainly true of Sr. Nancy McCarron as her quiet nature and thoughtful actions attest.