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.
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.
“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 email@example.com)