KATERI - Boys attending a leadership camp for altar servers
are pictured on the grounds of Camp Kateri Tekakwitha.
Thanks to the work of many volunteers, contributions from a
number of benefactors and enthusiasm from across the Diocese
of Lincoln, the diocesan camp continues to be improved for
use by youth camps, parish picnics, retreats and other
events. (Courtesy photo)|
Diocesan Teachers, Administrators Attend National Conference
By S.L. Hansen
(SNR) - A sizeable number of teachers, administrators and pastors from
diocesan Catholic schools spent much of last week at the National Catholic
Education Association’s national convention and exposition in Minneapolis.
Approximately 8,000 people attended the April 6-8 event. Among them
were representatives from Lincoln schools North American Martyrs, St.
Joseph, St. Peter and St. Teresa, Crete’s St. James School and Seward’s St.
Vincent de Paul School.
Held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the conference includes
professional development sessions that count toward each teacher or
administrator’s continuing education requirements, inspirational speakers,
awards dinners, an expo where various publishers, software companies, art
material suppliers and other vendors displayed their wares.
According to Sister Mary Alma, C.K, principal of Lincoln’s St. Peter
Elementary School, this was the third time in six or seven years that the
entire faculty of her school has attended the conference, along with herself
and their pastor, Father Michael Christiansen.
“He’s been the strongest advocate of this,” Sister Mary Alma said.
“It is very valuable.”
Conventioneers can attend up to eight different sessions, each one
taught by a professional educator. Topics range from how to teach the
Holocaust in a Catholic school to using the Internet in the classroom,
acquiring federal funds, or learning strategies that can help end bullying.
“They get as specific as helping eighth-graders transition to high
school and bringing Scripture into kindergarten classrooms,” Sister Mary
For lay teachers, who arguably sacrifice some earning potential in
order to teach in Catholic schools, Sister Mary Alma said the convention
gave them a chance to see that they are active contributors to the mission
of the Church.
“It really is a vocation, a calling from Christ to help spread the
Gospel, to help build His kingdom,” she said. “I think it gives them this
sense that we’re working together for the good of the Church, to pass on the
faith to the next generation.”
As principal for St. Teresa Elementary in Lincoln, Sister Mary
Cecilia, C.K, led that school’s faculty to the convention, the first time
that all the teachers had been able to attend together.
“They brought back with them new ideas, a new enthusiasm, and deeper
relationships with each other,” Sister Mary Cecilia said. “They look upon
each other more so as colleagues they can really count on… regardless of
Sister Mary Alma noted that the trip was actually quite economical.
“It can be carefully done so it’s a wise use of money and still a
wonderful time… very enriching,” she said.
She was able to secure funds from the federal program, No Child Left
Behind, to pay for all the registration fees. St. Peter School’s Home School
Association helped cover the rest of the expenses for the trip, which
included rooms, breakfast and one dinner at a retreat center that amounted
to about $22 per day, per person.
Sister Mary Alma said, “The accommodations were beautiful, and we
had a chapel,” where their group and the others staying at the same location
gathered together each morning for Mass.
In return for the modest expenditure, the teachers reaped a great
deal of information and new teaching techniques to take into the classroom.
“Teachers like to have new ideas, new ways to teach a certain
concept,” Sister Mary Alma said. “That just gives the children a bright,
vibrant, Christ-centered person in the classroom.”
Sister Mary Cecilia agreed.
“It was worth the investment,” she said.
The St. Teresa School family helped pay for their faculty’s trip.
“They were so excited to have an opportunity for the teachers to
have that ongoing and enriching professional development by people who had a
Catholic mindset,” Sister Mary Cecilia stated.
Both principals believe that it is the children of their schools who
will gain the ultimate benefits of last week’s convention.
“The teachers all have a spring in their step today,” reported
Sister Mary Alma as she settled in behind her desk on the first day after
Easter break and the convention.
“It gives the children excited, enthused teachers, instead of
teachers who are tired at the end of the year,” she continued. “They all
have many things they want to try, and that’s exciting… It’s almost like the
start of school again.”