Editorial – Shaping today’s children

Marnie McAllister

We’ve bought loose-leaf paper, composition books, markers and the like. We’ve agonized over the pencil selection — hopeful they’ll withstand the abuse of our young scribblers.

Honestly, if the erasers make it past this week, we’re off to a good start.

We prepare our students for the new school year in a variety of practical ways. As they leap from the car, there’s that last reminder to make a good first impression.

Educators of course are doing similar preparation — buying supplies, decorating their rooms, finalizing lesson plans. They also had the opportunity last week to prepare for the new school year spiritually.

More than 600 educators gathered at St. Michael Church for the annual back to school liturgy held each August.

As staff writer Jessica Able reported, Father Martin Linebach, the celebrant, reminded the congregation that teaching is a vocation.

“Teaching must be more than a job or a career choice,” he told them. “You must be motivated by a sincere desire to assist children and young people as they are shaped into fully-integrated human beings.”

Father Linebach, who is also the archdiocese’s vicar general and pastor of St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., drew on the theme for Catholic schools this year — “A time for shaping.”

He noted that educators have a unique privilege.

“This very year might very well be your ‘time for shaping’ — shaping a little soul,” he said.

“Pay attention to that shy, awkward, insecure sixth-grader who needs you. Don’t waste the opportunity. More importantly, don’t waste the time the Holy Spirit has given you,” he said.

It seems that “shy, awkward, insecure sixth-grader” was Father Linebach, who has of course grown into a priest with a great deal of responsibility. He credits the transformation to one teacher, an Ursuline Sister.

The notion that a teacher can inspire a young boy to a life-long vocation is humbling.

If you start asking veteran teachers about their former students, you will hear story after story like this one — about successes and changed lives.

How many of us credit a teacher with the discovery of a career path, a changed attitude, a new passion, a sense of self, our very faith?

If you’re not one of the 1,600 educators in the archdiocese’s Catholic schools or one of the thousands of other educators in the area, imagine for a second facing all those souls looking to you with expectant eyes waiting for you to shape them.

It would be overwhelming and humbling.

If you are an educator, thank you for answering the call to teach.

Let’s all offer our gratitude to educators for dedicating themselves professionally, personally and spiritually to shaping today’s children.


Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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