STAMFORD, Conn. — In 1973, Sister Carol Ann Nawracaj hesitantly came to Stamford to teach at the newly formed Villa Maria School. Now, 40 years later, she is proudly celebrating the school’s ruby anniversary.
“It’s a dream that I didn’t have, that came true,” Nawracaj, head of the school, said. She explained that at the time, she wasn’t sure at first that she wanted to earn her teaching degree after having just becoming a nun. But she decided to do so, based on the suggestion of her superior.
The facility first opened as an afterschool program to help students with learning disabilities in 1962, and became a first- through eighth-grade school in 1973. The state-certified and accredited school has since expanded to add an auditorium, cafeteria/art room, and offers classes for kindergarten through ninth-graders.
Nawracaj said she and the teachers have always put the students first, helping make them feel comfortable, and encouraging them to learn.
The family spirit of Villa Maria is most prominent to her, Nawracaj said, when she receives notes and gifts from former parents and students. Recently, she said, a 1974 graduate returned to visit, and he noted that despite the increase in size, the school hadn't really changed because of the love that fills it.
Nawracaj said she doesn't have any predictions about the future of Villa Maria School because she never expected it to grow like it has over the past 40 years.
“I don’t know what God has planned,” Nawracaj said with a smile, “He keeps surprising me.”
The yearlong 40th anniversary celebration will include a speaker series, an alumni reunion party in March, and the launch of the Special Annual Fund. Throughout the year, the school has adopted the theme of ACE, “A Commitment to Excellence.”