By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Last spring, when the onset of COVID-19 forced schools across the Diocese of Dallas to close their doors and move classes online, not everyone made the transition seamlessly. At Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Oak Cliff, a few students struggled with the online format.
Fortunately for them, they had Michael Alfers on their side.
“When we were all remote, he found a couple of students who had particular difficulty with remote learning,” said Mary Beth Marchiony, president of Bishop Dunne. “To make sure they were getting the material for their classes, he made paper copies of the assignments and drove it to their homes. He then picked up work they had completed and made sure it got back to the teachers. He simply was not going to let the students fail because of technical difficulties.”
It’s that kind of devotion to his school that made Alfers one of three recipients of the Diocese of Dallas Catholic Schools Office’s 2021 HALO Educator of the Year awards on May 4.“The overall mission, values and beliefs of Catholic schools are the most important in our society, in my opinion,” said Alfers, who graduated from Bishop Dunne in 1997 and is in his 20th year as a faculty member at the school. “If we can embody our mission, values, and beliefs each day then we can truly impact the lives of others and make our communities even better. Yes, there are challenges, but almost all things worthwhile require challenge and perseverance. One of my former students tells me ‘Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Alfers’ and I believe that’s what Catholic schools do.”
It’s definitely what Alfers does at Bishop Dunne, according to colleagues and students.
“Mr. Alfers leads by example. He concentrates on doing the little things which easily turn into big things that help our Bishop Dunne students succeed,” said Stephen Guerrero, assistant principal at Bishop Dunne, who praised a program developed by Alfers called “Falcons for Others” that allows the school to show gratitude to students who go above and beyond with acts of service and kindness. “It has become an important event at the end of our weekly Masses.”
At Dunne, Alfers teaches U.S. history to eighth-graders and serves as the assistant director for the middle school. In addition, he currently is a graduate student in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame, where he will graduate in July. Alfers also wears a number of other hats around Dunne, including working with the admissions department, coaching some middle school sports and serving as the announcer at sporting events.
“I am also the moderator for our school’s Dad’s Club, which is very involved in helping our school and surrounding community,” Alfers said. “During the pandemic, we have provided close to 100 meals to Falcon families and families in our community. We purchased meals from restaurants owned by Bishop Dunne families and alumni to help feed our families during hardship and support our local, Falcon-owned restaurants who experienced hardship as well.”
Giving back to the community comes naturally to Alfers, who has long lived in the Duncanville and Oak Cliff areas. He attended nearby St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic School through the eighth grade before attending and graduating from Bishop Dunne. His wife, Christina, and three children all have attended or will attend Dunne as well.
“I love Oak Cliff and do my best to support many of the ‘mom-and-pop’ restaurants and businesses as possible,”Alfers said.