From the Principal:
Holly Lake provides a nurturing environment in first grade where her students learn, grow and thrive. She encourages students to cultivate their own gifts and explore the ever-changing world around them. She weaves faith throughout lessons in science, social studies, reading and math, reminding her students of God’s presence in their daily lives. She fosters compassion in her students through classroom buddies, circle of friends, project-based collaborative activities, and more. Holly is a twenty-year veteran of Catholic education, and over the years she has faithfully taught kindergarten and second grade, as well. Holly has taken on an additional responsibility in a leadership role providing instructional coaching to many of her teaching colleagues. We are all blessed to have Holly here at Saint Thomas and joyfully nominate her for the diocesan Teacher Feature.
Please tell us about yourself.
I have been teaching at Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic School for the last 21 years. I started in kindergarten and have moved up to 1st grade with some 2nd grade mixed in there. I have always known I wanted to be a teacher and have always sought out Catholic education. I have been married to my husband, Dennis, for almost 13 years and we have a 10-year-old, Benjamin, and a 3-year-old, Allison.
Describe your school.
Saint Thomas was home to me before I had my own family. They welcomed me and I have grown so much in my faith and in my practice. At Saint Thomas we are truly a family community. This school and church have been an integral part of my life for so long and a constant source of support, love and prayers. The people here are so wonderful! I just want to grow and better myself as a teacher all the time so I can better serve these children and these families.
Catholic schools are different because...
We have a common bond: our faith. It is so wonderful to share my faith with my kids and hear their wonderful and innocent insights about God and the beautiful world around them. In Catholic schools we are a family; we pray together and love one another. We are also committed to bringing out the best in each of our kids and serving every developmental aspect of our children.
What drew you to teaching at a Catholic school?
I went to a Catholic elementary school, but then switched to public school for high school. I watched my best friend continue in her Catholic high school and remember wanting what she had - that close faith community, so I chose Aquinas College and moved to Grand Rapids. I was excited there were so many Catholic elementary schools here. When I graduated I applied specifically for the Catholic schools here. When I walked in the building of Saint Thomas I felt immediately at home.
What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your greatest rewards?
I love the relationships I have with the children and the families. I love watching them grow and talking with them as they get older. I love learning new things and trying out new ideas. I love working with the other amazing teachers here and learning and growing together. Definitely the greatest reward is this wonderful community.
In your experience, what do Catholic schools do best? What does your school do best?
Catholic schools love kids the best. We see Jesus in each child and help them grow in their faith. Saint Thomas loves the kids. We work hard to meet each child's needs and build relationships with kids and families. And we pray. Prayer changes things. Prayer is a gift we give to our kids that will stick with them throughout their entire lives.