“Beaumont honed my leadership, academic and study skills. I credit the discipline I got in high school and the leadership at the all-female school with helping me to be where I am today,” she added. Melody said she also embraces the servant leader qualities she learned from the Ursuline Sisters at Beaumont.
Most people probably would agree that academics, discipline and the influence of special teachers are important for a good education.
Melody and three other successful professionals who shared their Catholic school experiences with Northeast Ohio Catholic magazine validated those qualities and added a fourth: the faith component. All four were raised Catholic and remain active in their parishes and communities.
Terry Brizz of Rocky River, a St. Christopher parishioner, is president and founder of Galaxy Balloons, an
award-winning printing company with more than 100 employees. He echoed Melody’s statements.
“There are many positive things to say about Catholic education, but the two things that stand out are the discipline I learned and the importance of giving back,” he said. While a student at St. James School in Lakewood, Terry was a member of Boy Scout Troop 287 and remembered the Boy Scout slogan of doing a good turn daily. “I still strive to do that,” he added.
Kelly Keefe of Highland Heights is a St. Paschal Baylon parishioner and president of ERC, a human resource company. Her Catholic education taught her a crucial lesson: “Behind every employee is a person,” she said. “Through 16 years of CatholiceducationI was constantly reminded that every person — no matter their status in life — is a product of God. I am thankful that I have this knowledge and belief instilled in me. In the day-to-day hustle ofget- tingthingsdone, it is easy to lose focus and lackcompas- sionand patience for others,” she said, but she uses the lessons she learned from her Catholic education to try and provide “a safe, nourishing workplace for employees.”
Lou Perry, a Sacred Heart (Wadsworth) parishionerandSharon Center resident, agreed, but went further, explaining that “a Catholic education gives everyone the best chance to be a good person who treats others as they want to be treated and to put God in your life.” Lou, a graduate of St. Mary School and St. Mary (now St. Vincent-St. Mary) High School in Akron, is the owner of Louis Perry & Associates, an engineering and architectural firm, and the Perry Group, a design firm.
“I know my experience at St. Mary’s molded my character,” Lou said. “Even though the academics wereexcel- lent, the guidance and reinforcement of the values they stressed and taught were most important. They instilled in me to always treat everyone with respect and that the values we should live our life by are God first, family and others,” he added.
Melody attended Catholic schools from second grade through high school. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and a law degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She also has a doctorate from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. After practicing law for several years and being an assistant dean and law professor, she was elected to the Ohio Court of Appeals — Eighth
District in 2006, where she served until her November election to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Kelly and her husband have three children, a son at St. Ignatius High School and two daughters at St. Paschal Baylon, which she also attended before going on to Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin for high school and the University of Dayton.
“I was lucky enough to attend Catholic schools my entire life. At the time, I don’t think I appreciated the gift that my parents were giving me,” she said. “I was blessed with amazing teachers that truly cared for me and had a huge impact in shaping me into who I am today.”
One of those teachers — Mary Connors — who was Kelly’s seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher, alsoteachersher daughter. Kelly calls her “an amazing role model for young people. She exemplifies what it means to live your life for others. She pushes each child to their own peak — both academically and faithfully. She shares through colorful stories how God is there for each of us and to always keep a strong faith.”
Terry and his wife, Joanne, have three children. He is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cleveland State University. He also has a doctorate in management from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and he spent a semester studying at Loyola University in Rome.
He cited two teachers who had a lasting impact on his life: Jim Finley, a theology teacher at St. Ignatius who was a former Trappist monk, and Michael Fink at Loyola in Rome. Terry recalled going on a three-day retreat at the Trappist monastery in Gethsemane, Kentucky and how profound the experience was. “It was a very spiritual weekend experiencing the monastic life, visiting the cottage where Thomas Merton lived and learning to meditate,” he said. The time he spent at Loyola helped open the world to him, Terry said. “To a large extent, it really shaped who I am today.” He also met his wife in Rome.
“I remember one of my favorite priests at St. Mary’s — Father Jim Schleicher — would say ‘walk your talk,’” Lou said. “At the time, I didn’t understand fully what it meant. Now I do.” Lou and his wife, Joan, have four children, 10 grandchildrenandone great-grandchild. A daughter, Tracey Arnone, is assistant superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Cleveland.
Melody, Terry, KellyandLou continue supporting Catholic education by giving of their time, treasure and talent. They serve or have served on various boards, commissionsandcommittees to assist the schools and said they understand the value ofa Catholiceducation.
In addition to the many friends and contacts he made during his years in Catholic schools, Terry said he realized there is a bigger purpose to his life than just the professional success he has achieved.
Kelly agreed, pointing out that her own children “have been pushed multiple times to think beyond themselves to make a difference. Through feeding the poor, collecting soap and socks for the homeless or writing letters to the lonely — there are countless ways that they are taught that each person is a child of God.”