Dear Norwood-Fontbonne Community,
I hope you all enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving. I hope it provided everyone time together with friends and family giving thanks. I had the privilege of kicking off the holiday with many alumni at our first annual all alumni reunion last Wednesday evening.
Thank you, Mrs. Greenberg, for a wonderful event. It was wonderful to hear the many happy memories shared by alumni and I found myself reflecting on my own years as a Catholic school student. Like all kids when you are in the midst of things you never appreciate how impactful the experience is. I began this journey in Catholic education as a first grade student at St. Rose Grammar School in Belmar, NJ. During the twelve years I attended St. Rose Grammar and High School, I was blessed with dozens of incredible guides on my academic journey.
One of these very special teachers is Mrs. Mary Burns. I first got to know Mrs. Burns when I entered the sixth grade and had the gift of being in her class for Reading and Language Arts for the next three years.
In sixth grade I turned a pivotal corner as a student. Reading switched from something I had to do to something I wanted to do. For that, I owe a heartfelt thank you to C.S. Lewis and Mrs. Burns. In memory, it feels like I was perpetually working on a book report for Mrs. Burns. A book report doesn’t really capture it though. Because you never completed a simple book report. You created an original book jacket, built a diorama, created a mobile, or produced any number of creative, out of the box activities that stretched us as students and captured our imagination. The excitement that Mrs. Burns demonstrated each day and the joy she found in our success was contagious for all of us.
I learned so much from Mrs. Burns and not just the classic teacher tool of referring to yourself in the third person. (“Mrs. Burns will wait until our class is quiet and ready for the lesson”). I learned to love language and literature. I witnessed her passion for teaching as she tailored her lessons to engage all learners. Like all my teachers, she reminded me that I was a cherished child of God, blessed with unique gifts and talents and the opportunity to live my faith each day.
This past weekend when I unpacked our Christmas decorations among those treasures was the handmade ornament I received from Mrs. Burns in 6thgrade, a prized possession. It is an artifact of a very special teacher who gives 100% every day and probably never realizes the impact she makes. The very special people who answer the call to serve in our schools are who we are and what makes our communities so very special.
The gift of my education is an investment my family made that has guided my personal and professional life. I feel so very blessed to work with the most incredible team of talented, dedicated, generous educators every day. It is a blessing for which I am very thankful. Please take a moment and thank those special teachers in your life and the lives of your children.
In Christ’s Peace,
Ryan Killeen, Ed.D.