Middle-school matters

Notre Dame teacher works to connect with middle schoolers through academics, faith and a relatable sense of belonging.

When Nadine Loria talks about her job as a teacher in Notre Dame's middle school, it's easy to see why she does what she does. 

"I really don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t able to be a teacher," said Loria, who teaches religion to Notre Dame 6th and 7th graders, and science to 8th graders. "I've had a plethora of other jobs in my life and nothing has been as satisfying or meaningful."

She also said that her motivation to pursue a career in academics in the first place came from her own 8th-grade teacher.

"My inspiration for becoming a teacher came from Mrs. Schwark at St. Mary Catholic School in Mount Clemens," she said. "She held us to very high standards, but it also was exciting and fun in her classroom. She always had a way of grabbing our attention. She had a passion for teaching and was full of energy. She also was a very religious woman and lived out Christian values in her everyday life. I guess Mrs. Schwark is the reason I became not only a teacher, but a Catholic school teacher." 

Now in her fourth year of teaching at Notre Dame, Loria's career in academics actually began at St. Lawrence in Utica where she also taught middle schoolers. A graduate of Bishop Gallagher High School in Harper Woods, Mich., she did her undergrad at Wayne State University, earning a B.S. degree in elementary education – science. 

Obviously well-versed in the middle-school environment, Loria knows that while it can be at times a bit tricky with 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade students, she's focused on making sure she relates well to her students on both professional and personal levels.

"I think the most important part of my job here at Notre Dame is making that 'connection' with my students," she said. "Especially in middle school, children need to feel a sense of belonging. They need to know they matter. I can be an outstanding teacher and produce amazing lessons, but if I don’t know how to connect with and reach my students, it's all worthless."

For Alaina Orow, currently an 8th grader at Notre Dame, it appears that connection has been made. “Mrs. Loria does a wonderful job teaching and helping me understand the material," she said. "The way she teaches is unique, which makes the class stand out. I do very well in her class, which makes it even more enjoyable.”

Loria also appreciates the fact that she is working at a Catholic school.

"I really feel lucky to be able to work somewhere where I can practice my faith," she said. "I especially enjoy going to mass and being able to share a faith relationship with coworkers — where we can pray together, pray for each other, and have open discussions about God and our beliefs."

And she felt right at home at Notre Dame from the very beginning.

"My first impression of this school was how very friendly and welcoming everyone was when I started here," she said. "Also, I was very impressed with the amount of independence the middle-school students are given and how well they handle it." 

A native of Mount Clemens, Loria currently lives in Rochester with her husband, Matt, and son, David. Her daughter, Claire, a 2017 alum of Notre Dame Prep, attends Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. Loria says that her family is super important to her.

"I love to spend time together with Matt and our kids, whether we're skiing, going to Jimmy Buffett concerts, enjoying the sun at the beach, or just hanging out together at home. And being the youngest of eight, the four of us regularly spend a lot of time with my extended family as well."

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.