Unsung Hero #151

The other day, Maureen Belford retired.

An educator for over 43 years in the Catholic school system, she had a remarkable impact on students and families. She helped countless elementary and middle schoolers grow and learn.

Madeline Bayliss met Maureen when both were kindergartners at Assumption School in Westport. Years later, Maureen returned to teach there.

After 13 years at Assumption, she moved to St. Cecilia (now Catholic Academy of Stamford) in 1991. She taught 5th grade math, science and religion, and became assistant to the principal there. In that role she ran the after-school program, working with children while ensuring their safety and comfort.

Dr. Joann Borchetta, her principal for 24 years, calls Maureen “the best teacher I ever worked with….a mentor and a quiet leader.”

Among her many honors, Maureen received the Tim Russert Award. The Diocese of Bridgeport hosted a large banquet for her.

Maureen Belford (left), at a Washington ceremony honoring the Catholic Academy of Stamford as a Blue Ribbon School. Her principal, Dr. Joann Borchetta, is on the right. The award was presented by a Department of Education official.

Her principal added that Maureen could have been on the Weather Channel if she wanted. She brought meteorologists to visit class, and often took students outside for weather experiments.

In teaching religion, Borchetta said, Maureen embodied the school’s mission statement. She was a strong advocate of the school’s yearly Cultural Enrichment program.

Every year, Madeline says, she called Maureen a few days after school began. The educator had already assessed each child, figured out their personalities and how they learned, and knew how she would work with everyone individually and the class as a whole. She was passionate about inspiring lifelong learning.

She was also not afraid to try new technology. When the school installed SmartBoards, Maureen embraced them. She asked her students to help her learn. Her principal says “they loved her honesty and transparency.”

Middle school students often returned to visit Maureen. She boosted their confidence. Many of those relationships — and those with fellow teachers and parents — continue today.

Maureen Belford (left) acknowledges applause from 8th graders, at this year’s graduation ceremony.

“She is a treasure,” her principal says. “Parents say she was one of the best teachers their children ever had. She is firm but loving. Her students always felt secure and important in her classroom. She is one of those incredible people who are truly authentic, and cherish their faith, family and friends.

“Everyone should have a Maureen in their lives. Some of us did, and are blessed.”

A lifelong Westporter, Maureen remains an active Assumption parishioner. She chaired the Parish Council, and still serves as a Eucharist minister.

Because of COVID-19, Maureen’s retirement took place without public fanfare. But “06880” will not let it pass without this well-deserved, Unsung Hero shoutout!

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

16 responses to “Unsung Hero #151

  1. Nancy Axthelm

    Love Maureen! She is a treasure-smart, thoughtful and a great leader.
    Congrats Maureen! Enjoy the next chapter!

  2. I have known Maureen (and Maddy Bayliss for that matter since they were young twerps at Assumption. Seldom do you meet someone as talented, smart, giving and just all around swell as Maureen. Two of my three kids profited for having her as a teacher at Assumption back in the 80’s. Bravo and Congratulations on your retirement. Marie and Bill, and your sisters would be proud of you.

    The Leyden family, Rita, Tom, Peggy, Patty and Tom, jr

  3. Brennan McCarthy

    Miss Belford — I still can’t bring myself to call her Maureen 40 years after being in her sixth grade class at Assumption — is simply the best. I’m so happy to see her get this well-deserved recognition. Happy Retirement!

  4. Kathleen Dehler

    Miss Belford!!! My children had the good fortune of having you as their teacher at Assumption School. You made everything so very special.
    I am so happy that we are still in touch! Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for all the love you gave to my children.

    The Dehler Family,-Kathleen, Will,Nora, Deignan, John, Andy, Kate, Elizabeth and Matthew

  5. Congratulations Maureen. Enjoy your retirement you deserve it.

  6. Nancy Kondub-Harris

    Congratulations Maureen from the Kondub family- Johnny went to Assumption from kindergarten to Gr. 8 with you!

  7. This is a person who has succeeded. What a tribute to her . All best.

    • Susan Sutherland

      Miss Belford—
      As I write this my fondest memory of you is my 6th grade teacher at Assumption School— it would be
      “disrespectful “‘to call you Maureen then and
      40 years later you are still Miss Belford to me❤️

      My family was blessed to have the opportunity to attend Assumption and we still laugh about many memories and you will be happy to know the close knit community is still very much in touch today.

      Thank you for being more than a fantastic committed teacher..but for being a true role model. Congratulations on your years of success and the positive impact you made in education and i wish you all well deserved retirement— enjoy 😊
      Susan Sutherland ( and the Sutherland sisters💕$

  8. Congratulations Maureen! And all the best on your future endeavors… Cavalier Pride!

  9. Sarah Menninger

    I was a student in Miss Belford’s class in the 8th grade at Assumption school in 1985. Such an amazing experience with wonderful memories. Maureen was one of the greatest teachers as she truly cared for her students, always leading by example. Wishing Maureen all the best in her retirement.

  10. Andy Dehler

    Miss Belford was my 6th and 8th grade teacher at Assumption. She gave me great confidence and helped me realize my potential. Even back then in the early 80’s we had the Apple II computer, the first computer in school. Congrats Miss Belford!

  11. Patsy Sutherland

    Wonderful teacher, knew her very well! I was the girls basketball coach at Assumption School and she was my first choice babysitter to my 4 daughters (that also attended Assumption)whenever we went out of town. We are so proud of her and so lucky she graced all our lives. We wish her all the best in her retirement!
    Patsy Sutherland

  12. Mary Sikorski

    Congratulations Maureen! What a wonderful article! Marie is looking down smiling and so proud! Enjoy your well deserved retirement!

  13. Mary Therese Surette

    Miss Belford! One last time for good measure. All the best for you as you enter this chapter. Dad said after he retired he never knew how he got anything done when he worked. Mom loved teaching with you, and Cappy kept you on your toes. As for me, well Maureen, I am glad you took me on as a friend in adulthood. God’s Blessings Upon You!

    Terry Surette

    • Patty Kondub

      Congratulations, Maureen, on your impact as a teacher, mentor, role model and friend to your students.

      Thank you, Dan, for highlighting another Westporter who helps make our world a better place.

  14. Lisa Hughes

    Wonderful memories of Maureen when I attended Assumption School. Congrats on retirement.