Mary Ryan academy students visit their school’s namesake
A total of 13 students from Mary Ryan Academy in Louisville paid a very special visit to Nazareth Home earlier this month to meet their school’s namesake. Just weeks prior, they were excited to learn that they’d have an opportunity to meet Mary Ryan, who is currently a Nazareth Home resident.
When the students arrived for “Muffins With Mary,” the first thing 84-year-old Mary said was, “I am just so pleased to see you!”
Mary’s daughter, Angela Ryan, facilitated the discussion between her mother, the students and accompanying teachers. Mary talked about her life as an educator and why it was so meaningful to her.
“It would worry me when children would be out of school. I saw a lot of kids who were down on themselves, and they must understand what they can do,” she said. “How would they understand what they can do unless they get an opportunity to try? If a child is willing to come to school and give it a try, they are going to make it in life. So, we put these kids in situations so they know their abilities and how smart they are. We teach them not to give up. The children end up doing many wonderful things in their lives.”
In 1999, the Norton Academy, a school for special education students, was renamed the Mary Ryan Academy to honor Ryan’s contributions as a special education teacher. A school in the Jefferson County Public Schools system, Mary Ryan Academy currently serves a small number of high school-aged Exceptional Child Education (ECE) students. ECE programs are designed to meet the needs of students with educational disabilities.
“She considered all of the students at Mary Ryan Academy to be hers,” said Angela Ryan. “She loved them so much. This woman has a lot of love to give, and the students there needed some extra love.”
Mary talked to the students that day about the importance of school, applying themselves to their studies and jobs, and keeping their heads up when they make mistakes. She asked them, “What is your ambition? What do you want for yourself when you’re an adult? What can you do to make the best of yourself?”
When Mary was asked to give advice to the kids who were nearing their graduation date, she said, “It’s a special place to be upon graduation to figure out what you want to do, what’s important to you, and what you have to offer the world.”
At the end of their time together, the students gave holiday door hangers they had decorated to all the residents of Spalding Square, which is the Nazareth Home neighborhood where Mary lives.