By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
First-grade teacher Anne Bahr has a passion for reading and hopes to instill the same love of words in each of her young students.
Her commitment to education and care for her students has guided her four-decade teaching career, she said during a recent interview in her classroom at St. Martha School.
Earlier this year, Bahr was named the Archdiocese of Louisville’s 2019 Father Joseph McGee Outstanding Catholic Educator. She will receive the award at the Salute to Catholic School Alumni dinner — hosted by the Catholic Education Foundation — on March 27.
Michael Bickett, St. Martha principal, said he nominated Bahr for the award because she is the “teacher role model every Catholic school desires.”
“She exudes spiritual grace and patience in all of her interactions. Her caring for others is evident in the classroom toward her students, in the school among all staff members and extends beyond the school,” he said.
Bickett called Bahr “the spirit of St. Martha” and noted she is a lifelong learner.
“She never thinks, ‘I have done my part,’ she instead, is always ready to recommit herself to the ministry of Catholic school education. Her focus is always on how can I enhance student education in a way that is meaningful to each student?” he said.
Bahr said her love of children came at a young age. She is the second of six children and said she didn’t know what career she wanted to pursue until she began education classes in college.
“Once I got in the classroom, I knew right away this is what I was called to do. I’ve been very happy there,” she said.
A native of Louisville, Bahr attended church at both St. Martha and St. Gabriel. She went on to study at Edgecliff College in Cincinnati, now part of Xavier University. She earned a master’s degree in education with a specialty in reading from Bellarmine University.
She began her teaching career at Nativity School in Cincinnati, then returned to Louisville where she taught at St. Athanasius School and the old St. Aloysius School on Payne Street.
In 1987, she began teaching at St. Martha in a first-grade classroom — her favorite grade.
“I just love this age group. They are just so excited about learning,” she said.
Her care of students was evident in the gentle, patient way she guided her class during the school day last week.
She said she particularly loves the reading process and the moment when it “all clicks.”
“I love when it all comes together and they don’t want to put a book down. It happens at different times throughout the year for different students. It’s so exciting,” she said. “The children that struggle really do work hard. I like to encourage them. Every little bit of growth is such a milestone for them.”
Bahr said she’s grateful she is able to incorporate her Catholic faith in the classroom.
“I love praying with them. In a way, they are more in touch with God than a lot of older people,” she said.
She even uses prayer as part of her method of discipline in the classroom. She noted that when a child is having a hard time following the rules or with self control, the two of them often take a moment in the hallway and say a prayer together.
“I had a girl that had a hard time keeping her hands to herself. We asked God to help her use her hands to help instead of hit. It did help,” she said.
Bahr said she was “floored” when she learned she had won the Father McGee award.
“My gifts are quieter gifts here. I can think of so many teachers here who deserve to be nominated for this award,” she said.
After 40 years of teaching, she said she still gets satisfaction from it and is excited to come to school each day.
“I still get joy from my students. I couldn’t imagine my life without children,” she said.