Written by Adrienne Farrow, Teacher Christ the King Catholic School
Why are you a Catholic Educator? Just take a second and to stop and think. I can guarantee you, it’s not for the paycheck.
What draws you to teach in a Catholic school? God gives everyone a vocation—something that we are called to do with our life to serve Him on earth. For us educators, it’s teaching His children. We’re in the trenches day after day, responsible for not only teaching our students about language arts, math, science, and the other “key” subjects, but also about how to be a good human being, who loves God and knows that He loves us back. It’s easy to lose sight of why we are teaching in the first place.
Therefore, we need to focus on our WHY. This brings us back to our roots when we’ve had a rough day.
A couple years ago, my husband and I moved across town, and I was searching for a new job. I applied for jobs in a couple districts near our home, but after my interviews, I always felt like something was missing. I had gone to Catholic school for my entire life, including Catholic college and graduate school, and had taught in three Catholic schools (including my student teaching placement). So I spent time personally reflecting on where I felt God calling me professionally. I knew I was called to use my God-given gifts in Catholic schools, so I created my own Personal Mission Statement that I use to guide my teaching and reflect on when my days are rough.
So how do you create your own Personal Mission Statement? You begin by looking at four key aspects of your personal and professional life.
1. Who are you in your faith?
Usually, one of the key requirements for teaching in a Catholic school is that you are Catholic (especially if you will be teaching Religion as a subject). But we all come from different backgrounds in relation to our faith. Some of us are “Cradle Catholics” — we were born into a Catholic family, baptized at a young age, and grew up in a practicing family. Some of us are converts and had an encounter with Jesus that led us to seek more, entering into the Catholic faith as adults. Some of us went to Catholic school.
We all have different relationships with Jesus based off of our own personal experiences. I am a Cradle Catholic. I know that I am a child of God, and I feel deeply connected to Mary. I am also passionate about the Saints and love to know random facts about the men and women who came before me and lived their faith in small and radical ways. Who are YOU in your faith?
2. What is your WHY?
Why are you teaching in a Catholic school? Why did you choose to teach in a Catholic school versus other educational institutions? For me, it’s because I can freely express who I am. If I can’t talk about Jesus, prayer, or the Eucharist, I’m not myself. I love to begin and end my day with prayer. I need to be able to let people know I am praying for them. WHY are you a Catholic School teacher?
3. What do you need?
We all need something to grow deeper in our faith and to share it with others. What do you need to be a witness to Christ to your students? I need three things: First, I need the Eucharist. I can’t survive without feeling intimately connected to Jesus in the Eucharist. Secondly, I need updated resources to help me learn how to help make the Catholic faith relevant to the youth that I work with on a daily basis. Finally, I need prayers, both for me and for my students. What do YOU need?
4. What kind of witness do you want to be?
Finally, we need to look at what kind of witness we want to be to our students. Jesus calls us to share the Good News on a daily basis. We share this both with our words and with our actions. What do you want your students to know about being Catholic just by interacting with you? I strive to be authentic daily. I want my students to not only know their faith but also to LIVE their faith. I also don’t want my students to be scared or ashamed to be witnesses of Jesus. What kind of witness do you want to be to your students?
So what do we do now?
Take one aspect of each of the four parts described above and combine it into your own Personal Mission Statement. Mine is:
I am an authentic Catholic who loves and embraces all that I work with. I do not judge. I work towards inspiring my students to not just know their faith but to live their faith. I am fueled by the Eucharist and inspired through prayer. I am a witness for Christ.
Find a place to put your personal mission statement so that you will see it on a daily basis. I have mine on my lesson planning binder. Share it with colleagues and refine it often. As you grow in your personal, spiritual, and professional lives, you will find parts of your personal mission statement that you would like to modify. I hope that your Personal Mission Statement will help you flourish as a Catholic School Educator!
Want more? Read our blog Engaging Students in Faith in a Catholic Education!
Adrienne is currently the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Christ the King Church and School in Milwaukie, Oregon. A Catholic educator for nearly seven years, Adrienne teaches 7th and 8th grade Religion for the school and coordinates the Youth Ministry program for the parish. She received her BA in International Studies from Seattle University and her Master’s of Arts in Teaching from the University of Portland. Adrienne is passionate about making the Catholic faith authentic and relatable to youth today and helping Catholic school educators feel equipped to teach the Catholic faith with confidence. She is blessed with an amazingly supportive husband, Jon, her daughter, Evelyn, and her schnoodle, Russell.