By: Sister Mary Louise, OCD
I recently received a note from a student that made me chuckle and then brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. A certain 14-year-old wrote, “Sister, I know I can be immature and disruptive in class. If it seems like I am acting as if I were in my own home, it is just because I do feel at home in your classroom with its atmosphere of trust.” Well, that did explain some of the behavior. But as I reflected, I realized this child had given me one of the greatest compliments a teacher could ever receive.
I will be the first to admit that my classroom management skills are not the best. The noise level is usually above average, and we certainly have more than our share of tangents. But by the grace of God, I really do think my classroom is a place of transparency and trust where students know they are loved and respected exactly where they are. At a Catholic school, I have so much at my disposal that facilitates this environment. We begin and end the day with prayer as well as start every class with prayer. Religious images are on almost every wall. Scripture and saint stories are frequent in our reading. When tough questions arise (and you should hear what today’s teens come up with!), we have the whole treasury of the Catholic Faith ready to meet the challenges! For example, last week I was taking my class for a short walk around the grounds, just to get out of the building for a few minutes when one child asked, “Can we go see Jesus?” How could I refuse! So, we altered our course and went before the altar of God. After a few minutes with the Blessed Sacrament, we headed back to class and diligently spent the rest of the morning taking notes on American History (and yes, answering a dozen slightly off topic questions). Where else can you have such a blending of the sacred and the scholarly!
Catholic schools exist to assist parents in their role as primary educators of their children. We are in that sense a home away from home. We are grateful to the many families that trust us with the most precious treasure they have: their children. We, in turn, do everything we can to make our schools places characterized by the love and trust that come from the loving heart of God.