On August 31, at the annual faculty and staff opening meeting, Head of School Dr. Catherine Hall presented Lisa O’Connor, director of the health office at Nobles, with the 2021 Cora Hidalgo Holland award.
The award, given at the beginning of each school year, commemorates the kindness and warmth of Nobles parent Cora Hidalgo Holland by recognizing a Nobles staff member who contributes to the community through excellent work, character and dedication.
Hall read the following tribute, highlighting O’Connor’s exceptional expertise and work ethic during a challenging time. Hall said:
“This year’s award goes to someone I have come to count on for her immense talent, fierce dedication to our community, grace under pressure, seemingly endless supply of kindness and patience, and just the best sense of humor in those moments when you need it most.
“I am honored to present this year’s Cora Holland Award to Lisa O’Connor.
“Lisa’s work over the last year has been remarkable. If you think you have some sense of how many hours she has logged, sleep she has lost, research she has done, care she has invested, and emails and calls she has sent and made, you would not even be in the ballpark.
“There are few weekends or summer days over the last 18 months that Lisa and I have not spoken, as she triages crises, diffuses stressful conversations with anxious parents, and helps us navigate incredibly difficult decisions around Covid, of which there have been thousands.
“Lisa is always measured, informed, reasonable, professional, and patient. She is the epitome of a growth mindset, eager to learn more and evolve her thinking in any way that helps her do her job better. She has also been tireless, maintaining an insane pace of intense work for 18 months with seemingly greater calm, wisdom, and kindness by the day.
“Steve Ginsberg writes, ‘There is no person in the Nobles community who has had to lift their game more in the past two years than Lisa. She has been a rock for our community in our most challenging times and has been a trusted resource to nearly every constituency, including students, employees and parents. Her tremendous combination of professional expertise, work ethic and compassion has been exactly what the school needed and we would not have made it through such challenging times without her leadership.’
“John Gifford notes how Lisa has redefined ‘unflappability’–is that a word? He says, “’Unflappable’ is a term that can be thrown about when people are forced to navigate frenetic times but these have been more than ‘frenetic times.’ This has been an extended period of time marked by uncertainty, shifting realities, the potential for very real ‘life or death’ consequences–all leading to seemingly endless stores of high anxiety in our community. It is in that environment that Lisa O’Connor has redefined ‘unflappable.’ She is a rock, a thoughtful and patient ear, and the best friend that this community could ever imagine.’
“Jen Hamilton sums it up in sharing, ‘Lisa is someone who doesn’t think twice about picking up the phone late at night to comfort you, or jumping in an ambulance just to hold your hand. She makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world when you’re talking to her, and I have never known someone who is more patient and compassionate… not to mention hilarious!'”
Congratulations to Lisa O’Connor!