Following the SSND Example

Nkiruka Geraldine (second from left), pictured with (left to right) Sisters Priscilla Onwuka, Regina Oluoh and Stella Anyanwu, is a teacher at her alma mater, Notre Dame Secondary School in Mkar, Nigeria.

When it was time for Nkiruka Geraldine to consider a future career choice, she had to look no further than the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) guiding and challenging her at Notre Dame Secondary School (NDSS) in Mkar, Benue State, Nigeria. Geraldine followed their example and became a teacher, ready to be that same positive influence for the next generation of girls. The 2007 NDSS graduate is one of six former students now teaching at her alma mater, educating young girls in the same classrooms she once sat.

“I was deeply inspired by the example of the sisters,” said Geraldine, who teaches grade seven business education and grades 10-12 marketing. “I even thought about becoming a SSND, but instead I decided to become a teacher. I felt the need to give back what I received. I wanted to continue advancing the charism of the School Sisters of Notre Dame by enabling young women to attain the best of their potential. I saw it as another way of becoming a School Sister of Notre Dame.”

Giving back is a common theme among alumnae. Boikyaa Patience, who graduated from NDSS in 2005, teaches prevocational studies and catering. For Patience, teaching at NDSS is a way to show her appreciation for what the school helped her to accomplish. “What made NDSS a great place to learn was that we were taught to be responsible, self-disciplined, diligent and confident in ourselves. There were so many things I enjoyed about the school, such as the high academic standards, small class sizes and supportive environment that ensured each student was inspired to reach her full potential.”

Boikyaa Patience is a teacher at her alma mater, Notre Dame Secondary School.

The supportive environment is something about which Geraldine wholeheartedly agrees.

“The staff members were always willing to sacrifice so much for us,” Geraldine recalled. “Sister Regina Oluoh would spend her leisure time in the evenings to hold extra lessons in literature with us. [The sisters] embodied our school motto of goodness, truth and beauty and ensured we weren’t anything less. The sisters modeled to us by their character what we should be – peaceful, gentle ladies and strong builders of homes, nations and God’s kingdom, just as we sing in our school anthem.”

Notre Dame Secondary School was established in 1996 by the then-Baltimore Province. The school opened its doors in September that year with Sister Margaret (Peg) Malone as the pioneer principal. In the beginning, NDSS was established as a day school. Over the years, the school experienced tremendous growth and eventually transformed into a boarding school. Today, the school has a population of more than 750 girls.

The school’s proud history is one that Geraldine and her fellow alumnae are passionate about upholding.

“What makes Notre Dame Secondary School special is its emphasis on the wholistic education of the girl child, of which I am a beneficiary,” said Geraldine. “I hope to continue forming the heart of young girls to make them conscientious and compassionate individuals, able women, great entrepreneurs and responsible leaders.”