Three members of the Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS) community were honored with the school’s prestigious St. Madeleine Sophie Award, named after the founder of Sacred Heart schools globally. They join a distinguished group of past recipients ranging from members of the RSCJ to parents, educators, staff, and SHS trustees.
The awardees—James Everitt, Brisbane Mendoza, and Nancy Tarantino—represent a combined 60 years of service to the school. Everitt is a current SHS administrator, Mendoza is a current P-8 staff member and current parent; and Tarantino is a past SHS staff member and past parent.
“Each in their own way, James, Brisbane, and Nancy have demonstrated a consistent and outstanding commitment to our mission and values, our educational philosophy, and our school community,” said SHS Director of Schools Richard Dioli in his opening remarks. “They have earned this special acknowledgement by modeling the unwavering spirit of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the courageous determination of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, and the faithful presence of the Society of the Sacred Heart in the 21st century.”
The awards were presented during a formal ceremony and reception for family, friends, and invited guests held Thursday night, Sept. 15, outdoors on Conway Court at SHS.
Speaking about James Everitt was current parent and Sacred Heart Preparatory (SHP) Religious Studies Co-Department Head Virginia Boesen, whose friendship with Everitt extends 30 years.
Boesen said Everitt shows a “care and concern” for those he meets and works with that is “astonishing;” forging relationships that last beyond a student’s graduation, or a colleague’s departure from the school. “James invests in people. Mentoring, counseling, accompanying.”
Applauding his work on campus, Boesen said, “He is a person of tremendous integrity whose actions show us how to ‘walk the talk.’”
“Your commitment to amplifying the voices of those on the margins, placing them at the center of your work, and forging bridges of empathy to increase access and equity, call the rest of us to be better,” said Boesen.
Preschool – Grade 8 Principal Francesca Brake spoke about Brisbane Mendoza, whose “positive ‘can do’ attitude” has been a hallmark of her work across the three school divisions since joining SHS in 2006.
As the P-8 events and calendar coordinator, a position she has held since 2015, [Mendoza] “has defined Sacred Heart hospitality,” said Brake, “ensuring everyone’s needs are met and people have whatever they need to engage fully in the moment.”
From coordinating a graduation ceremony during the height of the Covid pandemic for over 70 eighth graders and their parents, to “beautifully navigating numerous tricky situations, competing agendas, and impossible obstacles,” Mendoza rises to the task. “She just smiles and says, ‘no problem.’ And you can truly trust, and believe, she means it wholeheartedly,” said Brake.
SHS Director of Schools Richard Dioli and SHS Assistant to the Director of Schools Lisa Gamitian delivered the introduction for Nancy Tarantino, who first came to SHS as a parent in 1998.
Speaking about her work as a parent volunteer and integral member of the parents’ association, Dioli said, “Nancy fit perfectly into the ethos of the school; smart, kind, generous with her time, a community builder and always gracious to everyone.”
Tarantino’s talents were evident in the many positions she served, from vice president and committee roles to eventual parents’ association president, and, beginning in 2006, as an SHS employee in the office of institutional advancement. “Each job Nancy took on, she did with such enthusiasm, care, and love for the Prep community,” said Dioli.
Gamitian, who worked alongside Tarantino in the advancement events office, spoke about her lasting impact on the community. “Nancy, during your 23 years at Sacred Heart, you have touched so many lives and you have permanently changed our world for the better. You guided, you inspired, you planned, you shined, you cared deeply. You always knew what to say, and always with a smile, generosity, compassion, and grace.”