Philosophy of Education
Knowledge is power; but it is only through action that one can truly change the world. Indeed, the true goal of a Catholic education is to light a fire in the hearts and minds of the students we are called to serve – that they in turn might serve as teachers for others.
As educators then, we must actively resist the societal perception of teachers as infallible founts of knowledge and students as the empty receptacles of our understanding. Rather, we are called to light the way – helping each and every one of our students to more fully recognize themselves as active moral agents and lifelong learners. So lofty a goal is accomplished not through the sterile, silent, and strictly managed communication of information, but the cultivation of a classroom characterized by dynamic, student-led discussion, hands-on experimentation and analysis, and integration of technology and other STREAM disciplines. Learning comes alive when it holds meaning, and as such, content must be shared in connection to our students’ own experiences, prior knowledge, and global perspectives.
As a teacher of the scientific disciplines, my responsibilities therefore extend far beyond guiding my students to master key concepts and become active participants in the scientific method and evidence-based discussion. For students must further still be called to actively help create and maintain a classroom culture of safety, responsibility and reciprocated respect for all. This means that our learning must not end at the memorization of seemingly disparate definitions and facts and the ringing of a class period’s bell, but be applied in connection to students’ own lives and utilized in order to help solve real world problems. The sciences themselves stand as inextricably interconnected, and as such, they must be taught as fundamentally linked to the disciplines of mathematics, persuasive writing, history, art, and certainly the core values of our Christian faith. This demands that I not only intentionally plan for and reflect upon my strategies to continually engage and supportedly challenge my students through every novel lesson, but come to know and respect each of them as individual learners.
Scientific learning is a never-ending, global conversation. And whether they recognize it or not, every human person acts as a scientist – gathering evidence, making predictions, and forever strive to better understand ourselves, one another, and the world around us. It is in guiding my students towards this recognition that my teaching echoes Christ’s call towards compassionate action and positive change. For not only are each of my students scientists, but stewards of Creation and servants of our sisters and brothers in Christ.
To truly learn science is to recognize that, yes, we are in this Universe, but more importantly that the Universe is in us. We are quite literally made of the same stuff as stars; a beloved part of God’s Creation, called to explore and better understand itself and our Maker. This is the revelation afforded by an education of faith and reason – and it is certainly a fire worth spreading.
Master of Education, University of Notre Dame (Alliance for Catholic Education Teaching Fellows)
University in Spokane, Washington, that I came to fully realize the profound power of an education that prioritized both faith and reason. Having been previously convinced that I would pursue a career in medicine or veterinary science, my undergraduate courses in philosophy, religion, and the liberal arts quickly opened my heart to new-found possibilities in education. Though nothing captured my imagination quite like the interconnectedness of Creation found within the sciences, it was in the active discussion of this knowledge with others that I felt most fully alive. Through several opportunities to volunteer in service of the students of Spokane Public Schools and the Makaw Native American Tribe, I came to learn firsthand the powerful changes I could help bring about in the lives and aspirations of my students.
Thereby inspired to apply and serve in the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Teaching Fellows program, I have spent the last two years completing my Master’s coursework in Education. In the meantime, I was far more importantly serving as the full-time science teacher for the wonderful 5th through 8th grade students of All Saints Catholic School in Richmond, Virginia. This beautifully diverse and supportive community not only challenged me to hone my skills as a beginning educator, but welcomed me to imagine the rich extent to which science education calls us towards greater spiritual understanding and social and environmental justice.
It is this mission of Catholic schools that I believe in so deeply – for a truly Catholic education does not end with passed tests and memorized facts. Rather, it is the holistic education of the whole person as a woman or man called to serve others in enacted love. This is what it means to teach as Jesus did.
As a proud new resident of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, I am forever exploring all that the greater Seattle-Tacoma area has to offer! From adventures hiking, biking, skiing, and camping in the great outdoors to making new memories with friends and family, I am always striving to build relationships and learn something new.