The Michael Aymar Foundation awards $20,000 to four Middle School students

The Michael Aymar Foundation kicks off the season of Thanksgiving with their NASHDO Scholarships, awarding $20,000 to four Middle School students. Three eighth graders at St. Joseph School in East Orange, NJ and one sixth grader at St. Benedict’s Preparatory in Newark, NJ serve as 2023 Michael Aymar Foundation (MAF) ambassadors. 

The MAF honors Michael Aymar, a former English teacher who taught middle school students in New Jersey Catholic schools for over 22 years. NASHDO, the scholarship’s namesake, is an homage to Mr. Aymar’s unique acronym for helping students remember a basic grammar rule: Not All Sentences Have Direct Objects.

MAF was created in Aymar’s honor to provide scholarships for middle school students enrolled in Catholic schools whose families have been affected by adversity related to death, illness or a job loss. The scholarships enable families who face hardships to continue their children’s Catholic education.

As of 2023, the 501(c)(3) charitable organization awarded scholarships totaling $92,300 to 19 Ambassadors across 6 Catholic schools in Essex County. 

This year’s recipients, Jasmine, Esther, David and Vincent, thrive in clubs, sports and student activities that are based on responsibility and hard work. They also embody the Catholic values taught in school that Mr. Aymar instilled in his students.  

Sixth grade ambassador from St. Benedict’s Preparatory, Jasmine Odamah (center left), shows off her scholarship award alongside Board Member Peter Aymar, her family, Board Member Nancy Nadolny, and Principal Sister Ann (left to right)

One of Mr. Aymar’s most relevant classroom lessons was the importance of gratitude, said Noel Gonzalez, Director of Mentoring and former student of Mr. Aymar. 

“Each student showed their gratitude not only for the scholarship but foremost to their family, principal, and school,” said Gonzales referencing his meetings with this year’s scholarship candidates.

“Gratitude teaches us many life lessons like humility, kindness, and self-awareness, all of which allow us to live our Christian values and be examples to others. I know that these students will continue to be proud representatives of their school and faith,” he continued.

Esther Joseph (center), 8th grade ambassador from Saint Joseph School, receives her certificate of ambassador alongside her mother (right) and board member Noel Gonzalez (right).

When Catholic school principals nominate candidates for this award they focus on students whose parents are involved in their children’s education and the development of their character. 

Nancy Nadolny, Treasurer of the MAF, participated directly in the scholarship review process and interacted with all the nominated students and families. 

“As part of our mission, we help parents realize the true benefit of their children afforded the opportunity to learn in a Catholic school setting. In this environment, students are able to practice and live the Sacraments; in doing so, they learn to be faithful to their daily duties as they get closer to Christ. Faith can be shared in their Catholic classroom as the students learn and grow,” said Nadolny. 

David Abu (left), 8th grade ambassador from Saint Joseph School, receives his certificate of ambassador alongside his mother (center) and board member Noel Gonzalez (right)

The foundation has provided 19 scholarships in total over 7 years to students at Lacordaire Academy in Montclair, Our Lady of the Lake in Verona, Aquinas Academy in Livingston, St. Thomas the Apostle in Bloomfield and St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark. St. Joseph School in East Orange is the newest school in Essex County to connect with the foundation and bring the life changing gift of education to three families.

Vincent Horace (center), 8th grade ambassador from Saint Joseph School, receives his certificate of ambassador alongside his mother (left) and board member Noel Gonzalez (right).

“We recognize the importance of helping 8th graders as this paves the way for high school scholarship programs where funding is more abundant and promising futures are within reach,” noted Peter Aymar, founding Board member. 

Past Eighth grade Ambassadors have gone on to secure scholarships to several prestigious high schools like St. Peter’s Prep, Loomis Chaffee, and Morristown Beard School.

“We appreciate our relationships with the schools in the area and their outreach efforts help us connect with supporters and donors who understand the unique space we offer to middle school students and their families,” noted Peter Aymar.

We invite you to visit their website: and consider contributing to this worthy cause during your year end giving. 

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