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Teacher Appreciation Week

By Emily Ely

It’s National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) Teacher Appreciation Week.

I appreciate Catholic educators every day – especially the teachers who taught me when I was young, the teachers who mentored me when I was a new teacher, and the teachers who teach my children.  I am inspired by Catholic educators every day – especially the impact my own parents (who were both teachers) had on hundreds of students, the dedication of teachers whose students thrive in less than ideal circumstances, and the hope of aspiring teachers.

Catholic educators in the United States teach diverse populations in a wide variety of circumstances. However, in every Catholic school there are two constants that drive teachers: Christ and community.

“Be it known to all who enter here that Christ is the reason for this school. He is the unseen but ever present teacher in its classrooms. He is the model of its faculty and the inspiration of its students.” That plaque is a visual reminder in schools to always put Christ first, but generally a reminder is not necessary. Putting Christ first, integrating prayer into the day, teaching values, and promoting service to others happen in Catholic schools because the teachers are dedicated to those things. That is why they are there. Catholic teachers don’t have a job; they have a vocation. They have answered God’s call to educate and minister to their students.

In 2014 Pope Francis quoted the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child,” to illustrate that children thrive in communities of faith, education, and service. When the Church, the school, and the family collaborate, children are successful. And this success isn’t only measured in IQ points, but rather with the question “Is he/she a good person?”

I could list hundreds of examples and anecdotes to support my appreciation for Catholic school teachers. I will stick to just a few.

...My preschooler’s favorite part of the school day? Prayer and praise. “Because we sit in a circle and talk about God. He’s in Heaven busy making new people. He made me. We get to say ‘thank you’ to God for making us.” Her teachers are reinforcing what we do at home. She has an awesome “village.”

...My best friends to this day are from my different school communities – my St. Ann friends, my Badin friends, my Queen of Martyrs friends, and my Holy Angels friends. When you spend time in prayer and service together, bonds form. It just happens. Teachers foster this community environment by their leadership and example.

...I know that my children are educated and LOVED by the people with whom they spend their days. I am confident that those men and women want my children to learn to spell and multiply. But I am equally confident that they want my children to be happy, confident, respectful, loving, disciplined, and successful. They want my children to be good people who earn Eternal Life.

...I learned from my teachers that I am important, but so is everyone else. That’s why we pulled wagons up hills to collect canned goods for the Little Sisters of the Poor to distribute to others. That’s why my daughter spent a cold winter afternoon tying scarves onto benches. It’s good to learn to serve.

Who was your favorite Catholic school teacher? What was the biggest lesson you learned from him/her? What impact did he/she have on your future? Please comment below to share. Join us in saying a Prayer of Thanksgiving for all Catholic school teachers, past and present.

Edited by Barb Miller

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