Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Being Taught by Teaching

Sister Meg (second from left) with some of her students at
Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg, Md.
by Sister Meg Kymes, D.C.

"The poor have much to teach you. You have much to learn from them."
- St. Vincent de Paul

This past school year, I had the opportunity to teach second grade religion. This was my first year teaching, and like most first-year teachers, I learned more than I think I taught my students.

Pope Francis met with students from Jesuit schools throughout Italy and Albania in June of last year. He said, "...The main element in school is learning to be magnanimous. ...This means having a big heart, having a greatness of soul. It means having grand ideals, the desire to achieve great things in response to what God asks of us..." I learned to not just expect the minimum from my students, but to expect great things from them because that is what God would expect from them.

One of my students had some issues with his reading ability. However, in discussions, he would come up with amazing insights into God's presence with us in all things and had a deep love for the Eucharist. God had given that child a very special gift of a deep love for our Lord and His laws and it was a stunning gift for me to witness. It inspired me to go deeper within my own faith life.

My first year of teaching also encouraged me to be more trusting in our Lord. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" My lead teacher and principal entrusted me with the awesome responsibility to pass on the "good gift" of our faith to my students, which is what Jesus would give to these children if he were still on Earth.

One of our retired Sisters who became a mentor to me told me to remember to trust that Jesus was with me every step of the way. I also had to remember the Holy Spirit had inspired my lead teacher and principal to make me these students' teacher. On especially difficult days, I tried to remember that, for a reason yet unknown to me, the Lord had chosen me to be these children's teacher and I needed to do the best I could while remembering that he was with me every step of the way.

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