At the Mass of the Holy Spirit on September 7, faculty, staff, parents and students paused to celebrate faculty achievement with the annual presentation of the Patricia Hannon Ignatian Educator Award. Named in honor of the late Mrs. Patricia Hannon—a teacher of the highest caliber, who not only shared her knowledge and passion for chemistry with countless students over her 23-year career, but also touched just as many hearts in the process—the Ignatian Educator Award recognizes a faculty member whose dedication to his or her students fosters a learning environment that is the model of Ignatian pedagogy. In keeping with these lofty standards, this year’s award was presented to Mr. John Donodeo.
John had taught for 7 years before arriving at Regis, where he has been a physical education teacher for 31 years. He has been an academic advisor, Chair of the Physical Education department, and a member of the Academic Committee, and a beloved guest auctioneer at the annual Regis Parents’ Club Auction. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Manhattan College and a Masters in Health Education from Penn State University. He has been honored by Manhattan College with a Distinguished Service award for his dedication and accomplishments as an educator. He has been an innovative teacher at Regis and he single-handedly brought Tchoukball to Regis. His is a living example for his students of an active and healthy life whether demonstrating on gymnastics equipment in a gym class, running New York marathons, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
In those 31 years, he has coached a three-season Cross-Country and Track & Field program in an urban school every year. It is as a coach that his passion for helping others improve and reach their personal best comes through so clearly. His efforts have earned him a legendary status at Regis. He is one of the teachers most visited by alumni through the years. His dedication and the competitive and respectful sportsmen he has trained and mentored through the years have earned him selection to the Catholic High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Honor. His student-athletes had the following to say about him: “He is more than just a coach. Each runner knows that he personally cares for him.” “I was the sixth best runner on a Cross Country team of seven and he treated me like an Olympic prospect.” “I was not one of the fastest runners, but he always made me feel important to the team.” “Whether we were on the bridle path or meeting at the bridge in Central Park for a run, he was always talking about school functions, personal lives, whatever, and you could always talk to him.”
Although he would be embarrassed to hear himself described this way, he is the great mix of spiritual person, a teacher, and a sportsman—and thus embodies the spirit of St. Ignatius with good teaching, generosity, and spirituality, As one colleague noted, “He is as true a Regian as the boys and alumni. He defines what it means to put one’s life into one’s career, and Regis is a better institution for it.”