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Love for teaching remains strong in longtime educators

Catholic Schools Week is recognized nationally Jan. 25-31.

Several teachers are being honored this year for anniversaries in Catholic education. The following teachers and administrators are the most tenured in the Archdiocese of Denver celebrating milestones this year.

The Denver Catholic asked each honoree:
What has been the most fun, interesting or educational event in your classroom, or at school, in the last year?

Years of service: 50
Ralph Taylor, Regis Jesuit High School
“Since I teach literature and history, every year the most fun is watching students enjoy and understand the relevance of what has been said by writers from previous times … and helping them understand that history isn’t just the past but is being made in the present—and is being made by them. I enjoyed talking to (students) about some of the pitfalls of being academically bright—turning out mediocre work because it’s easy, falling into complacency … and becoming frustrated because many of them tend to be perfectionists. I have learned to value each and every class as a special opportunity.”

Years of service: 45
Don McMaster, Notre Dame School
“Every teacher lives for that rare moment when the proverbial ‘light bulb’ goes on as a student ‘gets it’ … when it happens it makes all the struggles and dry moments worthwhile. I have a student this year for whom school has always been a struggle. I tried an alternative assessment method with the student, and it worked. On a very difficult science test, this student got 100 percent on the same test that the rest of the class took. Watching the glow of a legitimate accomplishment slowly creep across the student’s face reminded me of why I wanted to become a teacher generations ago.”

Years of service: 40
Johanna O’Connell, Nativity of Our Lord School
“As assistant principal at Nativity, one of my responsibilities is to organize and supervise our three talent shows each year. Watching the excitement and enthusiasm generated by our participants, not to mention their talent, is heartwarming. Being able to see their confidence grow as they perform year after year is inspiring. Sometimes the audience may question whether all acts are worthy, but I believe our purpose is to allow any child, who is courageous enough to stand on stage in front of their peers, that chance to take their place in the spotlight.”

Years of service: 35
Jan Greer, Good Shepherd School
“Working in a non-traditional setting in our enrichment program offers me the opportunity to experience each child’s uniqueness. I love to watch the sparkle in their eyes and hear the joy in their laughter as they explore their environment and interact with the other children. Seeing them develop into creative unique individuals brings joy and light to my heart. I have been blessed to be part of so many wonderful children’s and their families’ lives … I love them all.”

Brother Charles Miller, F.S.C., Mullen High School
“(As head librarian) the lunch period of the school day is the busiest time, when we have more than 100 students in the library. That would qualify as the most exciting and fun part of the school day for me.”

Janet Niswonger, All Souls School
“I have mostly taught second grade. I love the sacramental preparation and reception for first reconciliation and first Eucharist for second-graders. Their excitement, joy and love for the Lord is very special and touching. This year I’m teaching first grade again … I am enjoying (it). It’s amazing how much difference there is with just one year, in age and abilities. First-graders have so much energy and are eager to show you what they have learned! It’s fun teaching first grade for a second time.”

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