September, like the rest of 2020, has been a month of many great changes.
I had many moments of Zoom panic and Zoom joy this month as I learned more about my students, set expectations for our virtual meetings, and co-facilitated parent meetings.
Here are some of my favorite instructional activities (for the Holy Trinity, character traits, narrative Writing, 4th grade place value, 3rd grade multiplication and division, D.C. museums (Social Studies), writing dialogue, reading poetry, vocabulary study, and understanding emotions) that I shared with my students through the Seesaw app:
As a non-affiliated Christian working in a Catholic school and attending an Episcopal seminary, I want to take a moment to celebrate some of the most beautiful things I’ve noticed about these two traditions. As members of one body and one eternal church, I am proud of the way these communities glorify God, and honored to worship God alongside them.
- My Catholic school: healthy reverence for God’s mysteries, faith in God’s supernatural power, meeting God through art, respecting the dignity of the poor members of my neighborhood, bilingual love of immigrants in this neighborhood
- My Episcopal seminary: respect for the activity of the Holy Spirit as revealed over centuries, openness to hearing God’s voice across disciplines, importance of agreement to develop a formal cannon, international bent, dignity for other faiths
Lord, please tear down any barriers in these communities that stand in the way of individuals knowing you and receiving a fresh revelation of your love. We want to know you as you are, and we love you. Amen.
This month, I was blessed by:
- a conversation with a like-minded school leader who is hoping to put together a network of vibrant, spirit filled educators and leaders
- as a new member of staff being invited to host a Vocabulary A-Z training for teachers at my school
- interviewing members of the Mount Pleasant D.C. community and gaining more perspective for how race and identity have formed (and/or resolved) local conflicts
- discovering potential opportunities to gain credit hours for my studies
- Successfully attending mass and figuring out how to ask for a blessing instead of receiving communion (as a non-Catholic)
- new levels of mutual warmth and rapport between myself and students’ parents
- receiving many donations of plants to make my classroom as peaceful as possible
As a project for seminary, I will be studying my bilingual Catholic school community for the next 7 months in the form of a Contextual Study. This study is segmented into distinct modules which will examine my school from a number of perspectives including history, statistics, the surrounding community, theology, spirituality, and leadership. Through interviews, learning more about the school history, and attending to current units of study, the purpose of research is to determine the effect that a communally constructed common memory can have on an educational institution’s identity and current student scholarship. As of one month into this project, I have been able to dive deep with colleagues into conversations about school identity, been humbled by the vibrancy of my community’s Catholic faith, and seen firsthand areas of our ongoing needs. I have begun to pray that the communal self-reflection inspired by these interviews will open up new doors to celebrate the wonderful work of my community, even opportunities to apply to grants that will address some of our greatest needs. This Contextual study has also become a de facto internship in school leadership, as I am working closely with my very supportive principal to understand the logistics of running our school.
In order to support my research practically, this month I:
- created and began sending a consent form for interviewees electronically through Docusign
- developed partnerships and met with a group of teachers from my school and the surrounding area who will advise my project
- began interviewing individuals over Zoom
- and shared updates with my research advisor at VTS
- The beauty of the bilingual mass I attended with other teachers at my school this past week, and Francisco the cat, who was determined to distract me from it
- The grasshopper I saw munching on a yellow flower in Rock Creek park
- Riding bikes with a friend through the National Arboretum (in spite of coming home to an untimely sunburn)
- Guessing people’s nationalities by eavesdropping on the National Mall
- Learning to make smores in my toaster oven
- Praying with D.C. Anacostia residents as we gave away groceries with Wounded No More
What I’m praying for:
- For America to be filled with God’s justice and righteousness as we draw near to the November presidential election
- For the Body of Christ to be united in love and empowered to walk in their authority as sons and daughters
- For financial freedom for myself and for my school community
- For believers to rise up various nations
How you can pray for me:
- Please pray for continued health and protection as small groups of students begin coming back to school on October 12th
- Please continue to pray for financial freedom!
- As the school year started, several tutoring jobs I had taken on dissipated. I have understood this to be a response to a prayer I had prayed asking whether God wanted me to pursue tutoring as a vehicle for financial provision. Prior to these jobs ending, I had been sensing that my schedule might not be able to handle the strain of additional work, and God answered my question by closing that door. Praise God, who will find another way to provide.
- As of today, I am still planning to apply for scholarships in order to pay for seminary. I am sensing an invitation from God to apply to one scholarship primarily, but it feels like a risk to apply for less. Please pray that God will give me discernment in which scholarships to apply for and confirm or deny this impression, so that I will not waste any energy and time (which is in short supply these days).
- Please pray for an ongoing issue I have with a medical bill. Last year amidst great emotional turmoil and due to a toxic workplace culture at my previous school, I received counseling services at Christian counseling organization. Due to misinformation and miscommunication that this organization has denied to take accountability for, there has been an ongoing dispute between the two health insurances I had at the time (since May). After speaking with the insurance companies, both are cooperative and willing to work together to cover the bill, but this provider is unwilling to submit the claim due to a technicality (despite being invited to by the insurance companies on various occasions). The provider is trying to demand that I cover the bill out of pocket, which is not a financial possibility at the moment. Please pray that God would send a quick solution to this problem, which has already consumed so much of my time and energy.
As September draws to a close and many students return back to school, I am excited to meet many of my students in person! In many ways, it’s been a crazy-making, fruitful, and unexpected start to the school year. I pray that whether my students are together or apart, whether school plans stay the same or change, we continue to focus on God and the finished work of the cross.