Distinguished Alumni Award Winners
A Catholic education can provide an amazing foundation for someone to achieve great things, according to retired U.S. Navy Adm.Jonathan Greenert and retired educator Robert Paserba, who each were awarded a 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from Butler Catholic School Saturday evening.
The men received the awards because they have “attained extraordinary distinction in their chosen professional fields” and “serve as an example to all members of (the) Butler Catholic School community,” according to a news release.
Diana Foehringer, with the school’s alumni relations, said this is the fifth year the school has recognized outstanding people who came through the school’s doors on East Locust Street.
Greenert, who retired last October from the Navy, was the nation’s top uniformed official in the Navy. He attended and graduated from the eighth grade in 1967 from St. Paul Catholic School, one of the smaller schools that merged to create Butler Catholic School in 1969.
Greenert worked as a submarine officer after finishing his studies at the U.S. Naval Academy in nuclear power in 1975, eventually serving on the USS Flying Fish, the USS Tautog, the submarine NR-1, the USS Michigan and the USS Honolulu.
Greenert would go on to be the chief of naval operations, serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and advising the president and the secretary of defense.
He has received five Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, four Legion of Merit awards and the 1992 Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership.
Greenert said his start at Butler Catholic School gave him the needed tools to become a leader, citing integrity, ethics and values as some of the most important things he learned as a child.
“It’s the core foundation of what happens in this building and has happened for decades, and I stand before you as a testament to someone who had the privilege — really, the privilege — to come here and be taught and be nurtured,” Greenert said. “People ask me occasionally … how do you make it? What did you do? It’s your background … Everything I ever needed to know, I learned right here.”
Coincidentally, Greenert also is the brother-in-law of the second winner of the distinguished alumni award.
Paserba, who graduated from the eighth grade from St. Peter Catholic School in 1955, has had a long career in education, serving for 20 years as the superintendent for the Pittsburgh Catholic Schools. Paserba also was the superintendent of the Butler School District for eight years.
Paserba also was involved in the creation of Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry Township.
“In the ’50s, (the principal at St. Peter’s) kept saying there will be a Catholic high school built in Butler,” Paserba said. “In the ’60s, I heard, ‘It won’t be long before there’s a Catholic high school in Butler County somewhere.’ Well, I finally got it done. In 2009 and 2010, we put it all together, and it didn’t get off to an easy start, but right now, (Cardinal Wuerl) has 477 (students).”
Although he retired in 2014, Paserba still serves as an educational consultant with Pittsburgh’s Extra Mile Education Foundation.
Paserba was selected as one of the top 100 educators in the country by The Executive Educator magazine and won the national management effectiveness award from the American School and University magazine.
Paserba agreed with Greenert that the Butler Catholic School’s program is what gave him that strong foundation as a child to succeed later in life, especially being treated like he was capable of great things.
“We had 50 kids in our class, and I think back about the differences among us,” he said. “In Catholic school, we may not always get the cream of the crop, but every child is treated as if he or she is the cream of the crop. And boy, that stayed with me later on … the kids and community of learners that are born in Catholic school are phenomenal.”
article published October 9, 2016 from the Butler Eagle.