Updated: Feb 6
Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and patron saint of Catholic schools. This saint is an important one for me because he is the patron of my Alma Mater where I received my Bachelors degree in Education & Theology and my Masters degree in Theology. After struggling through a year, for several reasons, at the University of Houston I transferred to the University of St. Thomas, Houston. I was undecided on what I was going to officially focus my degree and future plans on because I was studying for a pre-dental degree at UH but felt ambivalent towards it after transferring out. I had also never attended a Catholic school before so I was completely unsure of what to expect. Theology and philosophy were a part of the core curriculum, like it is at any good Catholic school, and after entering into those classes I was completely and utterly in love. I never even thought that it was possible to love a subject in that way after my very difficult High school experience. In fact I remember telling God very loudly during my High school years that I would NEVER be a teacher, EVER! I'm shaking my head now with a smirk as I happily finish out my 8th year in Catholic schools. I have always been a student at heart, I love to learn, to do work, research, organize, color code, study, read, but somewhere in late Junior High and Highschool I felt that drain out. It wasn't fun or engaging, most teachers didn't know us or care to know us, nothing seemed to have real meaning! So I felt completely rejuvenated by being at a Catholic university, my entire self was engaged from the curriculum, to the community, to the life of faith that I encountered there. It was due to those experiences that I came to life again as a student and wanted other students to have those experiences too. Over the years I have taught in a wide range of places to every and all age between 3 and 18, but this is what led me to know, love, and dedicate myself to Catholic education.
4 Reasons Why I Love Teaching at Catholic Schools
1. Teaching the whole person.
My educational philosophy from its earliest days of formation has and still does believe in an authentic commitment to teaching the entire person, body, mind, & soul. What good is the intellectual life if it doesn't serve in nurturing our spiritual life and enabling us to act as people of God? While my subject inherently lends itself to this, it is the goal of all subjects within Catholic schools. I often remind my students to think of this when they go to their Mathematics, Science, History, & English classes. Everything that they learn there enables them to see more clearly and intimately who God is, and what He has done to bring us beauty, truth, & goodness. As Catholic school educators we recognize that each and every student has an eternal soul & end, and that we have been entrusted to nurture that for the good of their salvation.
2. Sharing Our Love for Christ
Jesus Christ is at the center of everything that we do and we don't have to be afraid of that. I grew up in public schools and some of my students have come from public schools, and we can attest to the frustration and drama that can ensue from talking about Christ. This is an educational environment where we can discuss Truth and foster opportunities for students to integrate their faith into their lifestyles. Being able to have this amongst teachers who have committed themselves to promoting this, and peers who are mostly like-minded is of the upmost importance. Catholic schools provide students with a space, a part from the noise of the world, where they can ask questions and strengthen their relationship with God in order to go back into the world and live courageously. In addition to that I am privileged with the opportunity to pray with and for my students, we receive the sacraments together weekly, & I get experience more about who they are on retreats.
3. Mission Driven
Catholic schools are mission driven, depending on the order or community on which they were founded this gives them clear goals and purpose. I know when I go to work that I'm not just striving to achieve my own classroom goals, curriculum benchmarks, & test scores. While all of this is good and important, it is also directed towards something greater and creates unity amongst everyone! The mission of the school that I work at right now is "to prepare the hearts and minds of students to serve God and others." That means that from the administration to the faculty and staff, we are all striving towards providing that to our students and we’re are all, students included, at the service of God. This is a humbling reminder that no matter what your role is or how much you get paid, we are all striving in our own little way to build up the Kingdom.
4. Authentic Community
Catholic schools tend to be a community that feels more like family, in fact I frequently see people's families. Their spouses and children are at mass with us, occasionally a precious little one will be at a morning meeting, families show up to extra curricular activities. This might be strange if you worked in another profession, but not here. In fact when I see these things it tells me that we are supporting one another in our vocations and that we see our faculty and staff as whole persons to love and support as well. There seems to be a genuine and true desire amongst colleagues to see the good in the other and to offer support in life's highs and lows. In addition to that are the parents who I must sing the praises of because they act alongside of us as a team. These are people who have invested in their child's learning in more ways than just financially; spiritually, physically, and emotionally. They are there by our side when we need them, they hold their children accountable with high expectations, & they are seeking the same academic and spiritual goals that we desire for them. What more could you ask for?
So today on this wonderful feast day I will go to adoration to pray for my students, they need it, and not because they are crazy silly (because they are) but because they are being faced with a lot. Today we learned about the moral act and applied that to several scenarios and I'd like to say two things... 1) you're welcome, being a moral ethics teacher is something else, you wouldn't believe the scenarios they come up with, absolutely hilarious & 2) these kids are smart and courageous.
Praise God! I'm blessed beyond all measure.
Peace & Good,