CRT Spotlights are intended to encourage and inspire fellow teachers of the faith. Enjoy getting to know and learning from today’s featured teacher!
What teaching positions have you had and for how long?
5th Grade (18 years at a public school) and Middle School Religion teacher (for the past 6 years)
Where have you taught?
Lomira, Wisconsin and St. Mary’s Springs Academy in Fond du lac, Wisconsin
JUST FOR FUN
FAVORITE: Bible verse or story
The first three books of the Bible. Genesis 1-2. This is how we are supposed to be living before the fall. I am a Theology of the Body student who has been taking classes through the Institute in Pennsylvania. You think you know the Catholic faith? Take a Theology of the Body course in Pennsylvania.
St. Don Bosco – My personal patron saint. He’s awesome!
FAVORITE: Christian work of art
I like secular music and find God in the music. U2, Journey, Paul Simon, and Train just to name a few artists. Many of their songs reach for infinity… it makes me want to open my my soul to the universe.
By far the Hawkeye Wings from Wallaby’s in Ames, Iowa. I will make the six and a half our drive for those.
FAVORITE: Book (besides the Bible) 😁
Anything by Peter Kreeft. The man knows how to explain the complex in simple terms.
Braveheart. This is how I base my marriage. I live and die each day for my wife. How do you live yours?
FAVORITE: Vacation spot
FROM THE CLASSROOM
What do you enjoy most about being a Catholic religion teacher?
I get to open the eyes of those kids who haven’t yet tasted the true beauty of the Catholic faith. My goal is to make them love my class so much, that it is the topic of conversation around the dinner table each evening. And yes… it is a requirement of my students to eat at least three to four meals a week around the dinner table.
What religion topic/lesson do enjoy teaching the most?
I have many, but I love teaching the “Diagnosing the Culture” unit. This unit opens their eyes to subjects No One is talking about. A close second is my unit on the Catholic Mass. There is soooo much more going on during the Mass than most seasoned Catholics know.
What is something your students have taught you?
The kids have taught me that even though I feel they are not listening in class… they are all ears. Middle schoolers try to act cool, but many of them are taking the information in and digesting it at home.
What is a “win” (story of success) that you have experienced through your role as a religion teacher?
Having a couple of the boys discern about the Priesthood and attribute it to my classroom discussions. Also, many of the kids creating Marian Shrines in their bedroom. How cool is that?
What is a struggle or challenge you have experienced as a religion teacher?
In the past couple of years I have had kids state they are atheists. Those are the hardest for me because they can easily drag down a classroom discussion.
What have you found to be most effective in helping your students develop a strong relationship with Christ and His Church?
Listening to God’s word. Turn off all noise and just listen. The beauty of everything around you is God singing to you. Take time to listen everyday.
What kind of advice or encouragement would you most want to share with a brand-new religion teacher?
Don’t beat religion over their heads. They have had that for years. Your job is to inform, show that you have made major mistakes in your life and you have overcome them in the confessional… be real with them, and create a classroom where they can ask any type of question. If you can do that… thank God that He is working through you.
Anything else you’d like to add?
In today’s world we, as Catholic school teachers, have to think differently. We need to trust God and allow him to speak through us. Get out of the way of wanting it your own way and allow God to use your body and your mouth to speak to the children. Sometimes after a lesson I find myself sitting in my chair wondering what just happened. Know that if you allow yourself the freedom to allow God to work through you that He will do everything. It’s pretty cool stuff.
How can other teachers connect with you?
Contact me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org