I always carry a tissue in my pocket when I’m teaching. It’s not to stifle a sniffle, but to stifle a laugh. I teach Fine Arts (Art, Music and Drama) to the students at St. Genevieve Catholic School in Chicago. The students’ ages range from 3 to 13 years, pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade. It can be exhausting but, in three words, I love it!
The first week of school, a pre-kindergartner, who refers to me as “Mister Sister Sue,” told me she was having a good day since she hadn’t cried … yet. When I said, “You’ll be fine. You like to draw and that’s what we’re doing today.” She replied, seriously, “You told me that before and I still cried.”
Teaching is in my blood. My mother told me that moments after I was born, she heard the word, “teacher.” From first-grade with Sister of Providence Ruth Johnson at St. Francis Borgia School, I had a scarf on my head and played school from that point on. While I enjoyed my time working in Mission Advancement for 10 years, being in the classroom is like coming home. The special treat is teaching at St. Genevieve Catholic School. The Sisters of Providence opened the school in 1924. Several sisters have asked where my room is located (third floor at the end of the north hallway) because they taught at St. Gen’s. Our school community is largely Latino and filled with energetic children. I am challenged every day to “make it work.”
When I signed my contract with our principal, she mentioned that I would also direct the children’s choir. EEEEK! In the past, I admit to groaning inwardly when all five verses were sung for each and every hymn. Now, well, I have a much greater appreciation for liturgical music. Working with children who have great hearts and “Mother Theodore choir” voices can be a delicate balance. (For those not familiar with the Mother Theodore choir, back in the day, the sisters who did not have the voice for the schola were relegated to the “Mother Theodore choir” in the pews). Just getting some of the kiddos to hold the hymnals right side up is an accomplishment.
Teaching is a vocation I embrace and thank our Provident God for giving me this gift again!