August 2, 2008 – Thank A Teacher

I start once again by thanking you for continuing to support and use our website, www.maryhoc.org.  As you may have seen on our homepage, we set another record last month for the number of pages viewed with a final total of 1210.  FANTASTIC!  I was reading the other day about the website for Chester High School, which has been online for 10 years, and how it basically started as one page with some sports information, but has continued to grow and grow into one of the most impressive school sites around.  Now I’m not claiming that the work I have done on our website is necessarily “impressive”, but it has certainly morphed into a much larger project than I ever dreamed it would be.  I thought at first we would have a little site where people could read the bulletin, see a monthly calendar and the other schedules, and maybe post a few photos.  I didn’t dream that in a little over a year’s time it would become what it is today.  I credit Fr. Gene for feeding me information and ideas, our parishioners for their ideas and encouragement, and of course God for the inspiration He provides me.

I am starting to toss around one more idea in my head for the website.  We have a very rich 166 year history here at St. Mary’s, and I am thinking about starting a page that would provide a brief history of our parish, and could also include some photos from the past.  There may also be a section with some St. Mary’s trivia questions.  As always, your suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.

Last week I talked about ways I try to find inspiration.  As we have turned the calendar to August and school is about to begin, I thought about the inspiration I was given over my childhood years by my teachers.  I was blessed to have many wonderful teachers in my life, beginning in grade school here at St. Mary’s.  Sr. Mary Edna was one of the last breed of the “old-time” nuns that many of us experienced in our school days.  She had a yardstick named “Sammy” and I think all of us in class became close to Sammy at one time or another.  But she also deeply cared about her students and knew what buttons to push to get her students to do their best.  Two of my other grade school teachers are still members of our parish.  Diane Kerkhover was my 4th grade teacher.  Diane had a great sense of humor and could make even the most mundane subjects fun and interesting.  Danny Miller was one of my teachers in the upper grades.  Danny related so well to us kids because well, in many ways he was like a kid himself – and I mean that in the best way.  He just had that knack of being able to express things on our level, and he treated us as his friends, not just his students.

The best teachers are those that you can look back on 10 or 20 years later, and you find yourself in situations when you say to yourself – “I remember when I learned that from” him or her.  I had one of those types of teachers in high school, Sr. Elaine Freund.  Sr. Elaine taught composition.  I can vividly remember the first class I had with her.  She said that your goal in class shouldn’t be to make an A or B.  Your goal in this class should be that when you walk out of here on the last day of the year, that you will be a better writer than you are today.  Did I ever take those words to heart!  In college, when you write your final thesis paper, you then have to “defend” your thesis – you get stuck in a room with several old, gruff professors and they basically tear apart everything that you have written.  However, when I walked into mine, the first comment was: “I just want to say that I think this was very well written.”  My first thought was – Sr. Elaine!  Really, in anything I write, I think back to those things Sr. Elaine taught me.

I had a professor in college that also taught me a valuable lesson.  It actually had nothing to do with the subject matter of the class – it was really an off-hand comment, but a comment I have found to be very true – “If you really want to learn something, teach it.”  Teaching something really does force you to dig deep into a subject and learn all you can so you, well, basically so you don’t look like an idiot.  I know that having taught religion for almost 10 years now that I have learned more about my church and my faith than I ever had before.

Our teachers are true heroes.  Besides our God and our parents, I don’t think there are people more important in shaping the person we become than our teachers.  Our best teachers are more than instructors, they are mentors.  Please pray for all of our teachers as another school year begins.  Pray also for a break in the hot weather before school begins!

Stay cool this week.  Peace.  

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