Magazine article Momentum

A Tribute to Catholic School Teachers

Magazine article Momentum

A Tribute to Catholic School Teachers

Article excerpt

The success of Catholic schools historically has not been in the physical plant or the money spent, but through the dynamics between teachers and students

Years ago the halls of Catholic schools were filled with scurrying swirls of black and white gathering their charges into pristine classrooms of desks all in a row. The sound of clickers could be heard echoing throughout the halls as student were brought to their seats to pray and learn. Whole classes recited their times tables in rhythms set by their teachers. Whole classes sat with their hands folded on their desks as sister talked about the world on a map pulled down magically from above the blackboard. Whole classes learned the patterns of our language through diagramming.

Times have changed. Now classrooms are beehives of different kinds of activities. Gone are the desks lined up in rows. Gone are the echoes of rote learning. Gone are the patterned rhythms of recitation. In their place are circles of desks for cooperative learning, computer software games for math repetition and literature circles where students get to voice their opinions.

But has everything changed? Thankfully, the answer is "No."

Years ago a great deal was expected and assumed about those wonderful sisters who filled every Catholic school. Their devotion and dedication to teaching the large classes in their charge was nothing less than a miracle. Every day each sister arrived early and stayed late to assure that all went well in her classroom and that the children were nourished spiritually, academically and emotionally. Tying back their wimples, there was no shying away from throwing a baseball during recess or tossing a basketball during gym. Hugs galore abounded and every child who got one will never forget that "nunny" smell. It was a time so impressionable in our history that a one-man show called "Nunsense" was created to help us relive and remember those wonderful experiences with the sisters in our Catholic schools.

Many Years and Many Changes

Many years and many changes have passed in education since these cherished days. New theories and laws have changed the classroom dynamic from a homogenous teaching style to a differentiated one that now addresses the whole academic condition under which a child can learn. We no longer have the stool with the dunce cap sitting in the corner waiting for its next wearer who does not understand his homework but have replaced it with a teacher's corner where she can work with this student individually to help him understand.

All this research into the dynamics of education and how to improve the overall educational system has been painful but necessary. Catholic schools have been no less dynamic in their reviews and revisions of their academic responsibilities to their students as public schools, but one thing has not changed over the years and that is in the teachers themselves. Catholic school teachers may have shed their black and white outer garments for more modern garb, but their inner hearts and souls have never wavered.

Twenty-first century Catholic schools are as blessed today as they were years ago with the quality of their teaching staff. The lay faculty who replaced the religious communities can be held in the same high esteem as their religious counterparts from days gone by.

Today's Catholic school teachers bring many qualities to their classrooms. Each is as important as the other. Their knowledge base is deep. …

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