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Timothy Howard's the name -- for sheriff, nun, it's the same

Sheriff Timothy Howard, meet your namesake: Sister Timothy Howard.

The religion and reading teacher at St. James School on Davidson Avenue got the surprise of her life when the Erie County sheriff who shares her name walked into her classroom.

This nun with more than 30 years' teaching experience giggled like a schoolgirl.

"Nice to meet you," she said.

"If you haven't figured this out, I'm Sheriff Howard," he replied.

Sister Timothy has been ribbed by her students and co-workers at the school about sharing a name with the county's top cop.

Little did she know that the sheriff, himself a graduate of Catholic schools, had heard about her after she won a teaching award and wanted to meet her.

To the delight of Sister Timothy's pupil's -- all seventh- and eighth-grade boys in the St. Augustine Scholars Program -- the sheriff handed the teacher a badge recognizing her as "Honorary Undersheriff." He then gave her a slew of "Howard" knickknacks, including "a special pen for grading."

Wednesday also happened to be the sheriff's 56th birthday. Howard celebrated by having Sister Timothy help him blow out the candles on his cake.

Twelve-year-old Christopher Boyd got a kick out of the meeting.

"It's weird," he said, noting that his teacher is both "tough" and "fair."

When she joined the convent, Sister Timothy took her brother's name.

"We had a choice of three names," she said, "and I put that down three times."

Sister Timothy enjoys her name, her colleagues said. Her students will often joke with her, "Are you the sheriff?"

"I'm just the sheriff of the school," she responds.

One of her colleagues at the school, who also is pastor at St. Ann's Parish, said he knows all too well the corny jokes that come with sharing a name with a famous person.

"I know what she feels like," said Father James Joyce, smiling.

e-mail: mbecker@buffnews.com

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