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Catholic Schools Week 2018 - Learn

Written by Jennifer Dees, M.Ed. | Katy Lichon, Ph.D. | Clare Roach, M.Ed. on Friday, 26 January 2018.

Catholic Schools Week 2018 - Learn

To celebrate National Catholic Schools Week, we are sharing four reflections centered around the themes of "Learn, Serve, Lead, and Succeed." Today's reflection on "Learn" comes from Jenny Dees, Katy Lichon, and Clare Roach of the English as a New Language team. Subscribe to receive the rest of the reflections in your inbox.

On this first day of Catholic Schools Week we focus on our call to LEARN. As we reflect on our many years in education, we are certain of one thing–the knowledge that we have collectively amassed does not reflect that we have been the masters of our students’ education, but that our students have been the masters of ours!

Here are two things that we’ve learned from our students (and their families) along the way. We’d be curious to know what your students have taught you.

  1. The students who pose the greatest challenge to us are the ones who occupy the greatest space in our hearts. That can be hard to see in moments filled with misunderstanding, disrespect, hyperactivity, or linguistic barriers. But, with a bit of distance, we realize that our challenging students are the ones we think of and pray for the most. Plus, these students are the ones that often force us to think differently. They nudge us to realize, to the steal the words of Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia, that “the other person is much more than the sum of the little things that annoy,” and “the deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world.” Students, keep challenging us to stretch our hearts and our minds.

  2. Amazing things happen when we listen to our “quiet” students and families. We were reminded of this just a few weeks ago when we watched a Catholic school in South Bend celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe for the first time. Because this was a new event for the school, the school leadership knew that they needed to solicit expertise, and they decided to reach out to a segment of their own community that up to then had stayed quietly on the sidelines. Numerous teachers in the school personally extended invitations to students and families, and the planning meeting was intentionally held in Spanish. What transpired was nothing short of magnificent. A community that felt on the outside was pulled into the center and became anything but quiet! Insights were shared, altars were constructed, statues were lent, and food and manpower were donated in abundance. Blessings overflowed.

Students and their families can feel on the outside of a school community for countless reasons. Sometimes it’s deep issues of culture, language, or class. Sometimes the reason is as simple as introversion. Yet, time and time again these individuals prove they have plenty to contribute if only we make an effort to ask. Students and families, continue to teach us how much you have to share!

Our prayer during Catholic Schools Week is that we may see our students and their families with new eyes, God's eyes, so that we may celebrate them for all that they are and share in the beautiful gifts they have to offer. Happy Catholic Schools Week!

Interested in learning more about our English as a New Language Hernandez Fellows? Visit for more information!

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