(Prayer offered for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 3 February 2016–Catholic Schools Week and Founder’s Day)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Gravity, silence, humility, prudence, wisdom, patience, reserve, gentleness, zeal, vigilance, piety, generosity.
Twelve vitally important words in the Lasallian world. These are the 12 virtues of good teaching that St. John Baptist de La Salle listed in his Conduct of the Christian Schools. This list has been used for centuries in the training and preparation of Lasallian teachers all over the world.
This past November at the Huether Lasallian Conference in Chicago, Mrs. Cerros was presented with the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award, an annual award that honors an educator who exemplifies the ideals of our founder.
Over her 16 years at La Salle, Mrs. Cerros has been the living embodiment of De La Salle’s ideals and virtues for her students. Please allow me to share a couple of thoughts from her former students:
“I can’t think of an educator more deserving. Mrs. Cerros taught me the value of educating the whole person. I feel like I am a more moral human being because of her mentorship.” ~ Liz Nigro
“Mrs.Cerros changed my life in the best ways possible. She was a support system, a friend, a mentor. She held me accountable; she called me out if I slacked off; she validated me when I succeeded. Her passion and dedication completely changed my life and put me on the path I am now on. She truly embodies the Lasallian mission in every way possible.” ~ Marco Lomazzo
It has been my privilege to teach alongside Mrs. Cerros in the Arts Department for fifteen years now. Watching the dynamic fostered between her and her students has been an inspiration to me as a teacher. More importantly, though, a few years ago, Mrs. Cerros was responsible for a life-changing event in my life as well. She was leading, I believe, her seventh service trip to New Orleans and asked me to be involved. This experience was where I truly got to see the real Mrs. Cerros. She is everything her students see and more. Her empathy, compassion, and selflessness are astounding. Listening to her speak about the past service trips, her students from past trips, the places they stayed, the places they worked, the stories they had heard from the families impacted by Hurricane Katrina all left a mark on me. We would go on to lead three service trips to New Orleans together. Each time, I watched in admiration as the students were coaxed out of their comfort zones and grew as human beings because of our many meetings and experiences we shared in New Orleans. I can truly say that I am a better teacher and, more importantly, a better human being for having shared these experiences with her.
But Mrs. Cerros is more than just our teacher; she is a dedicated educator in the Lasallian world. She leads Lasallian formation programs here at La Salle; she is a regular presenter at Lasallian conferences; she has played a vital role with the Young Lasallians; she is the director of Arts Alive!, a community outreach program; she has been heavily involved with the San Miguel School in Providence.
I could literally continue this prayer for far longer than you care to hear me speak with stories from current and former students, colleagues, and people that have been influenced in some way by Mrs. Cerros, but she is probably cringing as she listens to me right now. She is a very humble person (one of those 12 virtues) who is not in this for the recognition. So I will leave you with this final thought from Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, Superior General of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, “Elissa is one of those Lasallians who sees, understands, and lives the Lasallian Mission beyond their local ministry.”
Let us pray. Lord, we thank you today for Mrs. Cerros and all of those people in our lives that inspire us to be better people and to live up to our full potential. Grant us the strength to follow their example, make them proud, and that some day we may become that source of inspiration for someone else as they have done for us.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Brian Brouillard–Teacher of Arts (Music) and Director of Music