One in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John’s Prep
HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Arizona
EDUCATION: B.A. and M.A. Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
YEARS AT ST. JOHN’S: 17 years
SUBJECT: Religious Studies
FUN FACT: I spent three and a half months traveling alone around Europe. It was really cool because I was never insulated by a tour group; I was always exposed to the country I was in and met interesting people along the way. I met a group of Americans at the Eiffel Tower, was invited to dinner by new friends in Vienna, had a fascinating conversation about atheism and Catholicism with a biology professor from Hungary, and walked across the entire country of Liechtenstein! The whole trip was filled with amazing experiences. Travel can be so important and mind-opening.
DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP: Mrs. Peart at Pendergast Elementary School. In the fourth grade, she saw something in me that I never saw in myself. She wanted me to be a part of the fine arts team. She said, “I think this is something that you’ll be good at and you’ll be challenged.” She was an amazing teacher who knew how to inspire her students to try something new.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TEACH FOR A LIVING?: I took one semester of education courses during undergrad and initially thought, ‘This isn’t for me!’ But, then I had one class with a philosophy professor and fell in love with philosophy. Not only did we talk about Aristotle and all the great philosophers, but this professor connected the teachings to his life experiences. I felt like this is what a master teacher looks like, and it made me start to think about going into education. Later, when I was working towards my master’s, the department chair asked me to teach his classes while he was was in Rome for two weeks. I agreed—timidly—and fell in love with it!
WHAT EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?: Different times and different places in my life inform me. I have a sixth, eighth, and tenth grader at St. John’s, and listening to them informs part of my teaching right now. Watching them grow as learners has an awful lot to do with who I am when I walk into the classroom. I love my colleagues here, too, and enjoy the collaborations we have.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY?: I recently had a conversation with a student who felt that he and I could talk about something that mattered very deeply to him. When I can be someone like that for a student, it means everything. It’s incredibly fulfilling. I get to have those conversations in a large class, too. Students go deep into topics they care about. I enjoy seeing how they listen to their peers, support them, and respect them. They’re saying, “If it matters to him, then it matters to me.” It doesn’t get any better than that!