Catholic Schools Week 2020 - For Our Communities
By: Patrick Couch (ACE 23 - Memphis) - Associate Program Director, ACE Teaching Fellows
Throughout Catholic Schools Week 2020, we'll be sharing some of our favorite Catholic Schools Week reflections that ACE graduates, team members, and friends have submitted over the years. The below reflection is from Patrick Couch and was originally published in 2017.
How do you survive without community? You can’t.
Well, at least I can’t.
My roommates are my lifeline. My sanity. And, most importantly, my JOY.
I learned right away that teaching is difficult. Like really difficult. Everyone who said it would be tough? They were not lying. I also learned that I am the best version of “Mr. Couch” when joy is my focus. This gets to be a little complicated. It turns out that things such as grading papers, making lesson plans, meeting with parents, and disciplining students do not bring me much joy. Shocking, I know.
I want to walk into my classroom every day and be the enthusiastic, patient, and understanding Mr. Couch whom my students deserve. However, the stress and day to day struggles of teaching too often consume me.
What is the solution? For me, the answer is simple: Katie, Tim, Madeleine, Mayra and Evan.
We are six people (seven including Adam, but I’ll get to that in a little bit) with extremely unique interests and lifestyles. The range of personalities within our home could have isolated us as individuals. However, the complete opposite has occurred. We complement one another in the best way possible. The uniting factor within our community is a continuous search for joy.
We laugh. A lot. We turn teacher horror stories into comedy sketches at the dinner table. We find uncontrollable delight in simple things such as new community vacuum cleaners. Seriously, who knew vacuums were so exciting? We make necessary gelato runs when a roommate is feeling down. We take every opportunity to join in another community member’s joyous occasion including staying up far too late on a school night to watch the greatest sports championship ending of all time…that’s right…it actually happened. #FLYTHEW
Community life is not always easy. At times, you need to navigate challenging obstacles. For us, this came in the form of a Christmas card photo. We had a great plan, except no one to take the picture. Good thing Adam came with us. It is common for ACE communities to have “non-teacher friends.” Adam, however, is more than a friend. He is best described as a three foot tall plastic skeleton. This is because Adam is a three foot tall plastic skeleton. By incredible teamwork, we managed to position Adam in such a way that he snapped our Christmas card photo. Adam has become a permanent member (or shall I say fixture) of our community. I love Adam because he represents our commitment to find joy in the silliest of moments.
I cherish time with my roommates. The joy that we share rejuvenates me after days of seemingly constant difficulty. They find ways to turn my failures into successes and encourage me when I am doubting my vocation. Christ has called me to serve the children of St. Augustine Catholic School and it is my ACE community that strengthens me to respond to this call with joy.
Looking for ways to celebrate your community? Visit the NCEA's website for inspiration and ideas!