St. James Teacher in Biddeford Receives Catholic Extension Grant

BIDDEFORD---Estelle Beauchesne, a third-grade teacher at St. James School in Biddeford, has received a $1,000 grant from Catholic Extension, an organization dedicated to providing financial support across the country to ensure vibrant faith communities.

Estelle received the grant as the result of her nomination for the 2023 Lumen Christi Award, given annually to honor individuals or groups who demonstrate how the power of faith can transform lives.

Now in her 50th year as a Catholic educator, Estelle, who attended St. André School in Biddeford, has brought God’s love and joy to thousands of students.

“Her students learn what it means to be Catholic, to be caring, to serve,” said Nancy Naimey, principal of St. James. “They learn by her teaching and her example. She inspires others, the students, the teachers, a priest, that light within her shines to everybody. That’s a gift.”

“Every year I want to do better. Every year when I’m cleaning my room, I’m thinking ‘well, what can I do next year?’ So, when I’m not doing that anymore, I’ll know it’s time!” said Estelle, who was named Maine Catholic Schools Teacher of the Year in 2022.

Estelle is still thinking about how to spend the award money but, in typical fashion, she’s considering the needs of others, specifically the possibility of purchasing handbells for the St. James choir.