(Reflection offered by a recent graduate at the Faculty and Staff end-of-year meeting at La Salle Academy on Monday, 13 June 2016)
John Baptist de La Salle founded a school in France over 300 years ago in order to make education a more valuable tool for the poor boys in France. The tradition of a non-traditional education lives on today, as the spirit of John Baptist de La Salle radiates through the halls of La Salle Academy.
Teaching in a Lasallian manner means to bring something different to your classroom environment. Teaching in a Lasallian manner means to engage students, love students, and guide students, for the betterment of society as a whole.
For me, La Salle has been the embodiment of what John Baptist de La Salle wanted for each of his students. Starting with the formation of the Lasallian tradition in the PEGASUS 7/8 program with Bob Lisi, Mr. Danielian, Mr. Gilroy, Mrs. Cawthorn, Mrs. Ejnes, Mr. Hancox, Ms. Cook, and so on helped me to understand what it means to be Lasallian. Before I entered the high school part of my career in this building, I knew what La Salle was meant to be for me: a place where I would “learn to love, and love to learn.” That is the Lasallian way, is it not?
Making this more personal, I would like to highlight a few teachers whose dedication to the Lasallian way made my experience in this institution beautiful and more vibrant:
Mrs. Martinelli is a person who exemplifies the charism of a Lasallian educator. Not only does Mrs. Martinelli carefully guide her classes through subject material, but she also came in before school and stayed after school to help her students with study sessions. Even though I was consistent with receiving 88’s on nearly every test and exam in both Biology and Microbiology, Mrs. Martinelli was always confident that I would be able to push myself to get the “A”. Mrs. Martinelli always loved to share personal stories about her grandchildren or talk about the impact of the subject material on our lives and that is not something that I or many other students would have experienced in an institution other than La Salle Academy.
Mr. Sirois is another example of a person whose qualities as a teacher have impacted me as a student and a person. In the classroom, Mr. Sirois engaged his students by playing different music videos and trying to use media as a way to connect with his students. Whether the videos were funny or serious in nature, Mr. Sirois always encouraged his students to be open to new ideas, thoughts, and opinions, especially when it came to matters of faiths other than Catholicism. He always managed to make me smile on days where I thought that I was not going to be able to push through, while at the same time challenging me to live up to the goals and the will that God has for me.
Ms. Hayes is another person who exemplifies the virtues of a Lasallian educator. Each day when I came into class as a performing arts student, she would show me how to discover the talents that God placed within me. I credit her with helping me discover the passion that I have for being on stage and opening myself up to doing things that I am not necessarily comfortable with. I can recall several occasions where Ms. Hayes told me not to hold back in following a dream—- even saying, “follow your dream, the money will come.” This was something that helped me to realize that God would not place a dream in my heart if He did not want me to pursue it.
I apologize to all of the teachers that I did not mention. I wish I could give testimony to you all, as each teacher has been formative to me in growing as a learner and a person. To all of the teachers that I had in the classroom and to all of those who I have not had, remember the ways that you can be the love of Jesus in the life of your students. Remember you have the power to work small miracles in your guidance of each student. Remember that you hold the keys to your students’ success, and teach them how to love learning. Remember that when you show love and compassion to your students, they see and learn how to love.
That’s the Lasallian way: Learn to love, and love to learn.
Nathan Ledoux–Class of 2016