Michael Aymar Foundation Awards 2017 NASHDO Scholarship to Aquinas Academy Student
This post originally appeared in The Montclair Dispatch.
The holidays are all about giving. But instead of handing out neatly-wrapped presents with shiny bows, the Michael Aymar Foundation gifted something life-changing this season: a $5,000 scholarship.
The Michael Aymar Foundation is a non-profit organization that honors Mr. Michael Aymar, a former English teacher who taught at Catholic schools across New Jersey. Mr. Aymar believed it was his life’s mission to deliver quality education to his students and ignite in them a level of curiosity that would endure long after they left his classes. Throughout his career, Mr. Aymar built confidence in shy students and added touches of humor and magic to what otherwise could have been mundane lectures. He was known for his seemingly infinite knowledge, mutual respect for his students, and nonstop smile.
Mia Aymar-Smith – Treasurer of MAF, Mr. John Cohrs – Principal of Aquinas Academy, Mesgana, her mom Helen and her dad Samson.
Since Mr. Aymar’s passing, the foundation has provided “financial and instructional support for Catholic school students in grades 5-8.” Its resources include the NASHDO Scholarship, language arts tutoring, educational workshops, and forensics grants. The Michael Aymar Foundation aims to preserve the legacy of the beloved teacher and wordsmith of the same name.
The NASHDO Scholarship, awarded in December, derives its name from one of Mr. Aymar’s most memorable grammar lessons: “Not All Sentences Have Direct Objects.” The NASHDO (or “Not All Students Have Decent Options”) Scholarship gives emergency financial assistance to qualified middle school students whose families have just undergone a catastrophic event, such as illness, death, or job loss. $15,000 in three scholarships have been awarded to date by the foundation which was only launched in April of 2016. Through NASHDO, Mr. Aymar continues to help outstanding students through tough times.
This winter, the Michael Aymar Foundation awarded Mesgana, a 7th grade student at Aquinas Academy in Livingston, a $5,000 NASHDO Scholarship. Mesgana had attended the Foundation’s Raise the Grade workshops at the West Orange Public Library, where the organization learned of her family’s needs and struggles. The foundation understood Mesgana’s parents’ commitment to her education and admired the student’s communication skills and “desire to aspire.” They quickly connected with Aquinas Academy to award Mesgana the scholarship money that will allow her family to continue to support her education.
“Mesgana is an ideal recipient for this scholarship,” says Principal John Cohrs of Aquinas Academy. “She is bright, energetic, and fueled by a passion for life that Michael certainly would have appreciated. She is the type of young person who, with a little empowerment, will achieve the greatest of her goals. Typical of any student in middle school, a little boost of confidence goes a long way. The generosity of the Michael Aymar Foundation and the opportunity it secures for Mesgana will not be taken for granted by this youth. She is very deserving of the honor.”
The Michael Aymar Foundation is sure that Mesgana will make a wonderful Ambassador, and looks forward to introducing her at the Foundation’s upcoming fundraising event at the Van Vleck Mansion on April 22, 2018.
Amanda Aymar, the executive Director of the Michael Aymar Foundation commented that “While we are only in our second year, we are seeing connections that fill us with inspiration. It was through our workshops that we identified Mesgana, and her family brought us to the Aquinas Academy, a school where some students who knew Mr. Aymar had attend. This school is led by an educator who knew the quality of Mr. Aymar as an educator, and saw first hand the very special bond he forged with his students at the Blessed Pope John Academy in West Orange. We can safely say that ‘ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME’ and we are enjoying the journey!”
Pilar Kennedy, President of Studio042, Montclair’s largest business printer, says she has known Amanda Aymar and her husband for nearly two decades. “Yes connections is how I would describe the success of the Michael Aymar Foundation, connections and passion. Amanda has plenty of both. What she also needs is donations. Amanda has demonstrated she can ensure that 100% of the funds donated go towards scholarships which is why I support her and her foundation. I want everyone to join me in supporting her foundation and the good works she is doing.”
If you would like to join Pilar Kennedy and many others in supporting the Michael Aymar Foundation you can make a donation online at their website or by mailing in your donations to: Michael Aymar Foundation at 16 Helen Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052.