We ‘do more’ as a community of faith

First grade teacher Eileen Conville gets ready for her video shoot. Photo by Mary Beth Peabody

Seven teachers and one principal from South Jersey Catholic Schools are featured in a new video series, created for Discover Catholic Schools Week (Nov. 17-23). In preparation, participants were asked to think about how Catholic schools “do more” for students. The question prompted first grade teacher Eileen Conville of Resurrection Regional School, Cherry Hill, to share her thoughts in writing.

When I think about why I choose to teach at a Catholic School and how I believe we “do more,” the best answer I have is faith. As a mother, the most important gift I can share with my own three children is my faith. As a teacher, it is the lesson that is most important in my day. In our school, we “share” religion — we don’t just teach it. While I know the Diocese of Camden has established a strong academic curriculum, and as a first grade teacher I am a strong believer in the importance of early literacy, it is the building of a community based on the example and teachings of Jesus that allows us to “do more.”

You can see examples of faith woven throughout our day. It’s evident at our whole school morning prayer led by our eighth grade students. It’s the “God Bless America” added to the end of the Pledge of Allegiance. It is our practice of attending Mass as a school community and our many school-wide service projects. It’s even the opportunity to add a special intention to the gathering prayer when we meet with faculty and staff after school.

When there is a sign out front that says, “All Are Welcome,” the challenge is to create a strong sense of community. We do that here. Instead of our individual differences dividing us, it’s comforting to me to be able to say to my students that we are all God’s children and we are all exactly as he created us to be.  We strive to build a community of inclusion, of service and of compassion, not because it builds our own character, but because it is what Jesus taught us to do. When we can follow his example, and invite him into our classrooms, our school yard and our lunchroom, we are able to “do more.” When we can use faith in God to answer questions and build hope for the future, we can “do more.” This gift of constant faith is especially important in changing times and I am happy to be part of a school community that embraces it fully.