Today’s guest blogger is important to me for many reasons. Not only is she my sister, but she was also my 6th grade history teacher. I still remember the work I did as the “anthropologist” on our big Outback Project, which I think is a testament to her creative and engaging teaching style. She is a mom to my amazing nephew and nieces and a large part of why I am a teacher today. Here’s why she teaches in a Catholic School:
From the very first day I knew I wanted to be a teacher, I also knew I wanted to teach in a Catholic school. My vocation to teach and my vocation to live a faithful Catholic life go hand in hand, and having the opportunity to teach content to students through the lens of my Catholic faith is a privilege and a responsibility. Catholic education is all about culture—creating a culture of spiritual growth and connection from which academic excellence naturally flows and grows. In Catholic school I can encourage students not only to be the best they can be, but to be the person God calls them to be. My teaching is enriched by the opportunity to include faith as the context for academic and personal growth for students.
Whether I am teaching students how to conduct research, or how to look at multiple perspectives (especially about events in history they thought they knew about), or how to hold their own work to a high standard, I have found that the environment of a Catholic school provides a strong foundation on which these lessons can build. The lens of our Catholic faith provides profound ways to question and engage with the past and the difficult situations and questions that define human history.
This year I started a job as a substitute in a new school after decades at another Catholic school. My trepidation grew as the first day approached—I prayed an awful lot of Hail Marys as I prepared to begin this new chapter in my career at a school named for Our Lady. As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by the beautiful universality of our Catholic faith—from the visual: statues of the Blessed Mother, crucifixes in each classroom—to the practical: morning prayer to start the day for the entire school and an afternoon prayer to close the day. The school chaplain, a newly ordained priest, greeted me, and a religious sister opened the classroom for me. I felt at home immediately.
Across the many content areas I have subbed for this year, the thread of the faith holds everything together, the liturgical seasons marked by the school community, liturgies celebrated together, a vibrant Campus Ministry that provides students with opportunities to live out the principles of Catholic Social Teaching: I truly feel like I have come home.
My own faith grows by being a part of a Catholic school community, and I thank God for the ways He guides my vocation. Teaching in a Catholic school is a privilege, and I am grateful.
Kristin Camiolo is a graduate of Rutgers University and holds teaching certifications in secondary English and Social Studies. She has mentored and facilitated graduate courses for the National History Day program, and her work appears in the upcoming publication HERstory, Women in American History(www.nhd.org) . She taught high school History for many years in a small, urban Catholic school, and is currently a substitute teacher at Immaculata High School in Somerville, NJ.