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Why Hunger Can be a Good Thing in Your School

Wednesday, March 08, 2017 by Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C.

Fr. Nate Wills Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program

Feeling hungry is the worst. Like most of us, when I’m hungry, I’m cranky, single-minded, and I usually start talking in caveman/Cookie-Monster-speak: “me want food.” There’s actually some science behind the power of this feeling (happy reading!), and all of us know how all-consuming hunger can be. When you’re hungry, you can think of little else than simply getting food.

I daresay most of us probably don’t often experience long periods of hunger. Or maybe I should speak for myself—I don’t often experience long periods of hunger. I’ve heard of people who “forget to eat lunch,” and while I understand what those words mean, I can’t wrap my mind around forgetting a meal. For me, that would be like saying that I forgot to breathe for a little while. Consequently, I don’t often experience true hunger. And I’m probably not alone in this. Most of us have enough (or more than enough) to eat, so hunger can be rather foreign to us.

As school leaders and teachers, I know many of you keep granola bars on-hand for kids who haven’t had anything or enough to eat that day. You know that hungry kids can’t learn.

So hunger can prevent us from learning, make us cranky, and have obvious negative effects on our lives. Why, then, is “hunger” listed among the dispositions that the Remick Leadership Program tries to instill in our graduates?

"Why... is "hunger" listed among the dispositions that the Remick Leadership Program tries to instill in our graduates?"

We have a different read on hunger. Think about the last time you went out for a really great meal and thought, “I am so stuffed—I’ll never be hungry again!” Sure enough, less than 24 hours later, you’re hungry again. We’re never physically satisfied for a long period of time. This is the good side of hunger: it keeps us alive, moving, growing, and thriving. And this is our hope for the graduates of our program who will become the current and next generation of Catholic school leaders: we want Remick Leaders to be hungry for change, growth, and excellence. We want our leaders to draw out the best in their students, teachers, and themselves every day, to celebrate these accomplishments, and to be hungry for more the next day.

Christian Dallavis describes this mindset beautifully with the Italian phrase that Michelangelo wrote in a journal toward the end of the great artist’s life: Ancora imparo. “Still, I learn.” We want Remick Leaders to be hungry not because we want their school to be the best (though we do!), nor because we want them to be the best Catholic school leader they can be (though we do!).

"...Catholic education is a sacred and absolutely consequential work of our Church ..."

The Remick disposition of “hunger” is built on the belief that Catholic education is a sacred and absolutely consequential work of our Church that enables children to find their full potential as they come to recognize and love the One who can truly satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts: Jesus Christ. If you can hold that belief in your heart and see the great need Catholic schools have for transformational leaders, it will make you or keep you hungry.


School leaders can change the world. Will you? Become a Remick Leader.

About the Author

Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C.

Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C.

Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C., serves as the Director of ACE's Blended Learning Initiatives, and on the faculty of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program.

Wills was a member of the 8th cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows, and later served as an associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in South Bend. He teaches the educational technology class in RLP; his research and scholarship in the area of blended learning in K-12 Catholic schools support ACE’s understanding of how technology and other levers for change can help Catholic school teachers and leaders have an even greater impact.