By Julie Bauer
For The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Ten years ago I accepted a position that completely changed my life: teaching seventh- and eighth-graders at John F. Kennedy Catholic School. From the firm seed planted during my CEW (Christian Experience Weekend) through accepting that I could not face another day working in the pressure-cooker sales job I held, I turned my family upside down by heading to St. Ambrose University to add a teaching degree to my education. As part of the final SAU class to graduate under the oaks, I earned my teaching degree in 2004.
I was lucky enough to experience teaching various grade levels and content areas as a guest teacher in Quad-City area school districts. However, full-time options were scarce. Just as I was becoming discouraged and feeling guilty that I had put my family in a serious financial situation, the Holy Spirit once again guided me to apply for the seventh-grade language arts and literature and eighth-grade social studies and religion position posted in the summer of 2006 by JFK. I’ll never forget receiving the call from Chad Steimle, JFK principal, as I was driving home on U.S. 61 with our newly adopted cat.
Accepting a job offer, any job offer, was my priority; however, I immediately felt at home at JFK and relished the potential for discussing, sharing and learning about my Catholic faith in every content area I taught. I am in a unique position to hold a long list of endorsements that certifies me to teach grades 7-12 English/language arts, all social sciences, and reading, along with a Middle School Generalist for grades 5-8. I am highly passionate about instilling the love of learning for learning’s sake and, because modeling is part of every teaching day, I love modeling my love for learning. That’s why I earned my Master’s of Arts in teaching last August.
For six years, I taught the two grades for which I was hired. Now in my 10th year, I teach only eighth-graders for English/language arts, social studies and religion. The lure of a higher income in public school is always there, nevertheless, JFK is my home and the students who spend the majority of their time with me each day are “my kids.” I am so blessed to partner with the kids’ parents who offer support, encouragement, and the faith foundation that makes teaching at a Catholic school the best of all worlds.
I’m proud to be a part of the church and, being an adult convert, I appreciate connecting with my students who are not Catholic and witnessing to those who are. Pope Francis and the Jubilee Year of Mercy are perfect reasons to be 100 percent confident that teaching in a Catholic school is my way to encourage our young students to fully accept their responsibility to spread the Good News.