Students at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring embrace Nora Facchiano, co-director of the Extended School Program there, after the recent surprise announcement  that she would be receiving the Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence.
Students at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring embrace Nora Facchiano, co-director of the Extended School Program there, after the recent surprise announcement that she would be receiving the Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence.
Nora Facchiano approaches teaching with the same curiosity that has guided her for 74 years: "You have to learn something new every day of your life."

With 49 years of teaching in Catholic schools, she continues to pass along those lessons today to about 200 students enrolled in the Extended School Program at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring. As the program co-director, Facchiano leads assemblies, teaches religion and social studies, reviews lesson plans and manages a staff of 20 while providing students a safe place to learn until their parents are able to pick them up.

"Nora is a pioneer in the Extended School Program," said Tobias Harkleroad, principal. "Our families rely on the Extended School Program in order to attend this school," he added. He credited the success of the program to Facchiano's dedication.

"Our school wouldn't be here without the Extended School Program," agreed Franciscan Brother Gerald Hopeck, assistant principal.

In 1977, Facchiano designed one of the first after school programs in the Archdiocese of Washington at St. Mark School in Hyattsville. She now helps direct a similar program at St. Francis with a special emphasis on emergency preparedness.

"I know all the drills," said Facchiano who has participated in the CERT or Community Emergency Response Team program. This local government funded program helps train volunteers for disasters. A HAM radio operator, Facchiano also owns steel-toe boots and stores an emergency blanket in the school for every student in the program.

In the past her emergency training has involved rock climbing and playing a pretend "victim" during county-wide emergency drills.

In her free time, Facchiano likes to garden, and she continues to serve on her neighborhood watch of seniors who need help. She is an active parishioner of St. Mark Parish in Hyattsville where she has served two terms on the parish council and began a chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. "I don't think we can live without faith," she said. "It's the whole purpose of life."

Facchiano received her degree at the now-closed College of St. Joseph in Emmitsburg. She later married and her husband of more than 30 years died in 2006. The couple raised one son. She also has three grandsons.

Additionally in 2006, Facchiano received The Washington Post's Agnes Meyer Award for outstanding teaching in a private school.

Facchiano said she treasures the opportunity of teaching in Catholic schools where "I have loved every bit of it."

In the classroom her biggest lessons often centered on respecting others' differences. Facchiano has suffered from hearing loss since early childhood and over time she has dealt with other physical disabilities, including a few rods and screws in her back. However, she has never let her limitations get in the way of pursuing her own education or being an example to others. "We're the Body of Christ," Facchiano said. "We all have a need, and we all have a talent to offer."