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A+ for Our Nation

Each day during Catholic Schools Week, we will post a reflection on the focus of the day centered around this year's theme, A+ for America. Today's theme: "Catholic Schools are an A+ for our Nation

In the spring of 1995 at La Salle Academy, while standing by my junior year locker, my freshmen
year algebra teacher approached me to ask where I was applying to college.

I had not had this teacher in almost two years, but he was concerned with my college process. I answered that because of family’s financial situation and my academic struggles that I was planning on joining the military and postponing my further education. He respected my decision, but asked me to pray about my decision as the military could wait for me, that I could always join the military after my undergraduate studies.

I returned to that teacher many times over that spring, before, after school, and during free periods. Over that time I came to understand that my academic struggles were a gift, for they focused my abilities, and that my family’s financial struggles taught me that value in education. By the end of my junior year after countless hours of counsel, I decided to apply to one college. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota accepted my application and found the financial aid that I needed to attend.

I graduated from that institution in 2000, and six days later I was in basic training for the United States Army. For four years I served on active duty in service to my country.

Upon leaving active duty, I returned to school to become a Catholic school teacher, thanks to a Catholic school teacher who cared. This is how I know Catholic schools are an A+ for the nation, and that is why I advocate for them.

Ryan Patrick Hinton is a religion teacher at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Connecticut.  He earned his B.A. in Theology from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in 2000 and later went on to earn his M.Ed. in Education through Notre Dame's ACE Teaching Fellows program in 2006.  He is currently working toward an M.A. in Educational Administration through ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program.  Ryan has given ten years of service in the United States Army, with four years in the 101st Airborne Division and current service in the United States Army Reserves.