Teach & Serve
No. 5 * September 1, 2015
Related Content from And There Came A Day:
- Teach & Serve No. 4 – “Think from the Desk”
- Teach & Serve No. 3 – “How Does This Affect Our Students?”
- Teach & Serve No. 2 – “Skip to the Good Part”
- Teach & Serve No. 1 – “I am a Teacher”
Jesus Sent Them Two-by-Two; It’s about Relationship
We are not in this alone… though sometimes it may feel that way. We have colleagues, co-workers and collaborators. All we need to do is reach out to them.
I’ve been in Catholic Education my entire professional life. Though my college studies took me to public schools for practicums and studies, upon graduation, I gravitated towards the Catholic system pretty quickly and have spent a quarter century within it.
I began as a teacher at Bishop McNamara High School in a suburb of Washington, DC, working there for 2 wonderful years before moving to Regis Jesuit High School in a suburb of Denver, Colorado where I spent 20 years as a teacher and administrator. Following that, I joined the Jesuit Schools Network as an Associate Executive Director to vision for give support to the growing network of Jesuit schools in the United States and Canada. I often suggest to people that I drank the Catholic school Kool Aid, and that is true. Though I celebrate and respect, admire and, in many ways, hope to emulate what goes on in public schools, I have found Catholic schools my professional home and have been lucky to feel that way.
What I’ve rarely stopped to do is to consider the why. Why do I feel so at home? Is it simple comfort? This is where I began my career, it’s where I am likely to end it and the comfort level is so high that I’d never want to leave.
Possibly. Likely, perhaps.
But I do think there is more to it than that. What I have found over my career is a resonance with the story of Jesus sending out his apostles. We know this one: “He called the twelve and began to send them out, two-by-two.” I’ve always liked this idea – that Jesus didn’t send the twelve out alone, that he sent them out in pairs, as teams.
The twelve were going to hit the road, Jack, and they were going to do hard things – drive out evil spirits, preach the Word, spread the news – but they weren’t going to do it alone. Jesus knew that they would need someone near them who understood, someone by them who was walking the same paths they were walking, who was willing to walk that same path.
Jesus understood that it’s about relationship.
I’ve found the concept of relationship at the core of my experience working in Catholic schools. Often, teachers and administrators find in one another companionship and support, comfort and fellowship as they go about their work. Teaching can be a very lonely profession if it’s allowed to be; administration even more so. Walking with someone else, as it were, is a very good practice. It’s one about which we should be intentional.
Further, we must understand that our other companions are the students in front of us and the families supporting them from home. Though these connections are not always as readily apparent, they are equally important.
I can’t see doing the jobs we do without paying clear attention to relationship, without attending, consciously, to relationship. In my opinion, relationship is that key to what we do.
Perhaps this feeling explains much about why I’ve been working in Jesuit schools as long as I have. Clearly St. Ignatius and his early Companions understood the importance of relationship.
Certainly the relationships forged in public schools are just as strong and just as important as those I have valued in my career. Of that I have no doubt. I do, however, love the fact that, in my professional experience, I can call it what I believe it to be: an emulation of Christ’s work with his disciples, a following of the model of St. Ignatius and his Companions, an understanding that wherever two or more go in the name of Jesus, God is there.