I am a Catholic survivor! 🙂 Now some people may take this the wrong way, but it’s not really such a bad thing and besides which I’m glad I attended three Catholic schools in my life and now is my chance to thank those who made a huge difference in my life at those three schools. I’m doing this during Catholic Schools’ Week, too (for those of you who don’t know; this week beginning Sunday and ending on this coming Sunday)!
First of all my elementary/grade school (pre-school/early education through 8th grade) was Holy Cross Catholic School. We were known as the Hornets. I know a lot of people would have been glad to only have one school to attend for those years and not have to switch 3-4 times during that time. Anyway, the first person that comes to mind for this school that had influence on me during that time was Mr. Jack the computer teacher. I sort of feel sorry for him a bit since I was a rather slow learner when it came to computers and technology (also I always ended up “breaking” the computer or causing something to go wrong). In the end, however, Mr. Jack was kind enough to take time to teach me a lot about the computers and was a lot like my dad (both in the fact they were older than most of my classmates’ dads, wore glasses, and loved technology)! Thanks, Mr. Jack, for putting up with me all those early years as I learned about technology. 😀 The next teacher was actually my band and music teacher — Mrs. Rainey. Mrs. Rainey had a lot of faith in me and could tell I had potential in music and could go far. She almost always gave me a coveted instrument (whether that was the triangle or the chimes). I loved both of those instruments a lot until about 4th grade when I started playing for the school band. Daddy gave me a trumpet (the first one was a silver one that had a flower engraved on it; after my first recital he gave me a gold one) and I was the only brass and trumpet player in the 4th grade. There were 5 other girls in the 4th grade band and they played clarinet. I never could figure out how they could do it, but I loved my trumpet so much! I was also always the first one in after the extended whistle blew for afternoon recess on band practice days (for me that meant running in to the music room to band practice). I loved music and Mrs. Rainey saw that, so she would often give me additional pieces to practice or an extra special piece to play that no one else would know about until later. I still love music to this day and it’s all because of Mrs. Rainey’s extra attention she gave me. Thanks, Mrs. Rainey! About 3 years later my music passion would come alive again and this time it was with my choir director, piano, and music teacher — Mr. Garner. Mr. Garner taught us how to sing in our natural range (which meant for the first time in my life I had learned being a “flute” meant I was a “soprano” and was a great compliment). I also enjoyed learning how to dance and Mr. Garner was my first dance teacher of sorts. He taught all of us how to dance for our 7th-8th grade musicals. I found great joy in dancing and soon found out I could learn to play piano, too. Mr. Garner started teaching piano after school on I believe Tuesdays. Again, I got special attention and was told often how well I caught on to music note names, rhythms, etc. Thanks, Mr. Garner! Before I end my elementary/grade school years’ thank you’s, there was one other person that I do not remember by name. This person was my speech therapist. As a child I had difficulty saying words with the letter “L” in it; it was even more difficult the more “L”s that were present. Anyway, if it was for my speech therapist, I probably could say more than half of the words in this entry tonight! Thank you! 😀
Moving on from Holy Cross, I attended Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (STA) and we were known as “Saints.” I didn’t have too many teachers here who influenced me into who I am today, but those that did were actually only my teacher for one or two classes the whole time I was there. The first one was my seminar/homeroom/study-hall monitor/theology teacher — Mr. Hain! Mr. Hain was a relatively quiet gentleman, but actually had quite an impact on me. As a matter of fact he was the first “friend” I met when I was trying to overcome my shyness at STA. I sat in the front row next to his desk and pretty much kept to myself, but as soon as I discovered he was also my theology teacher I broke more out of my cocoon and pretty soon he had me learning more and more about my faith than I ever thought I could or would want to. I discovered there is more to my faith life than just attending Mass every weekend. I could share my talent of writing that God has given me with others and God gives us opportunities as long as we are willing to quiet down and listen once in a while. He taught me so much more than I can ever write in just a short paragraph (I may dedicate one of my entries to him in the future). Thanks, Mr. Hain! The next teacher I had that influenced me a lot was my social studies/world history teacher, Coach Huppe. I do not know what it was that first drew us together. I mean he was rather loud and affirmative. He never saw anything bad in anyone. I don’t know what it was because he is the total opposite of me. I do not speak loudly nor do show much affirmation in much of what I say and do. I lack confidence in myself basically and have to be shown over and over again I can do it (whatever “it” happens to be at any given time)! I guess maybe that’s what I was drawn to in Coach Huppe. He showed me I had the courage to go on no matter what others think of me and to not give up. He saw I was also the kind girl who never wanted to start a fight or do anything wrong. I was at first afraid of Coach Huppe since he didn’t speak softly usually and again this was a lot like Daddy and both pushed me to be my best and loved basketball (Coach Huppe was even the boys’ basketball coach and the baseball team coach). Anyway, he taught me to not be afraid to speak up and to have confidence in myself no matter what even if others do not! Thanks, Coach Huppe! The last teacher to have an influence on me in high school was actually not a teacher at all; in fact this person was my spiritual director Mr. Aley. He and I were first partnered up after my initial spiritual director was convinced I would do better if I was partnered up with Mr. Alley. He encouraged me to write my autobiography so I could heal from my past and move forward with my future. I did actually write the first part and am continuing to write it to this very day. Mr. Aley also convinced me to love the person in the mirror despite all her flaws and I had to accept my past before I could move on to my future. To this day, I remember that every time I look in the mirror and remember I have to love myself before anyone else can ever love me. Thanks, Mr. Aley!
Now on to college/university. As I’ve said many times in the past, I attended Avila University the first time and was known as an “Imperial Eagle.” In actuality only one teacher ever stood out to me and made me who I am today and she wasn’t even in my major (almost convinced me to switch majors) and that teacher was good, old “Mother” Schirmer. I use the term “Mother” because that is what she fondly referred to herself as because she was trying to say she was “old enough to be your mother” and could also offer the same “love and discipline” as a mother. Fair enough, I had thought and didn’t really get into it all that much until she began her teaching lessons. This is where I found out she was a lot like my mom. She has a very witty sense of humor AND loves sports! “Wow, I really am having my mom as a teacher,” I remember thinking. Anyway, I kept registering for her classes time and again (mostly as electives) and deliberately trying to meet up with her outside of class time just to talk. She inspired me to make learning fun and to have fun learning even if it isn’t for class. Thanks, “Mother” Schirmer. The only others who helped me were my mentor (who deserves her own entry) Farrukh Hasan, campus ministry team leaders Steve Huber and Dave Armstrong, and my friend Todd Eppert. All four of these people helped me grow in my faith life and pulled me through some of the most difficult times in my life. Thank you everyone!
So all in all I’ve survived Catholic schools, but have done so with help from all of my friends, classmates, teachers, and mentors! They have all had an impact on who I am today. If you ever get a chance to meet any of these people (or do know them) you will understand. 😀 Thank you for being a part of my life and realize you are why I have survived to this day and continue to thrive today despite all my troubles.
God, bless us — EVERYone!