“To raise children properly, we must love them all and love them all equally.” This quote by Marcellin Champagnat is something I come back to at the start of each school year, and something I strive to achieve in my everyday teaching and interactions with students. The past seven years I taught at Roselle Catholic High School in Roselle, NJ, which coincidentally enough was the same high school I attended as a student. This year, however, I will be teaching at a school that is not only not Marist, but also not Catholic. Nevertheless, this quote will continue to motivate my approach to teaching this year. I am teaching at a public school on the other side of the country, in Tacoma, Washington.
To start the school year, almost the entire state of Washington was on strike. So for the first seven days of the school year I found myself picketing outside my school or the district building. We were striking for a increase in teachers’ salary, which apparently has been an issue for some time now, so through no effort of my own (other than picketing), I got my money! Although this time was very uncertain for teachers, it gave me time to get to know my new coworkers and build relationships quickly which I would not have been able to do if the school year began as normal.
I am looking forward to experiencing a new environment and connecting with students from a different background. A challenge I am anticipating is not being able to directly share my faith or beliefs with students as I have been able to do in the past. I am struggling with the questions: how do I retain my Marist identity despite not being able to openly talk about my journey? Will I still be able to reach students if I cannot honestly share some of the important aspects of my life with them? How can I still impart the marks of a Marist student without explicitly stating them? I hope through my actions and example I can continue to exemplify the marks of a Marist educator and continue to positively impact the young people I teach.