Recognizing teachers in a year unlike any other

Published on May 4, 2021
A teacher works with a student at St. Stephen Catholic School.

To mark National Teacher Appreciation Week, Assistant Superintendent Sarah Grey writes about the dedicated Catholic school teachers in the Diocese of Grand Rapids.

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. As a Catholic school parent and having previously been a Catholic school principal, I used to mark this occasion in small ways by purchasing treats for the teacher’s lounge and giving a thank-you note with a gift card enclosed. 

This year I have recognized that my appreciation must extend beyond treats and cards - it is my responsibility and the responsibility of all of us in the Diocese of Grand Rapids to thank our classroom teachers and school principals for all they have done to live their vocation as Catholic school educators who are courageous and joyful witnesses of the faith. Their response to God’s call to educate, especially this year, deserves continued recognition and admiration. 

Since joining the Office of Catholic Schools six months ago, I have had the pleasure to visit every school in our alliance and also personally connect with teachers through collaboration opportunities. What a joy it has been to get to know and see our teachers in action. While news stories across the country have shown us teachers unions, political leaders, and parents at odds with each other over what is best for children, here in the Diocese of Grand Rapids we have seen a collaborative commitment between our priests, school staffs, and parents to do all they can to keep our students in school where they have had the opportunity to become young people more fully alive through their daily lessons and personal interactions with each other. 

Walking the halls of our schools this year, I hear laughter, experience wonder, and see the joy of children growing in their learning and in their faith. This is possible because of our teachers. A pandemic did not prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities, and if anything it propelled them to work harder in service of their students. 

As Superintendent Dave Faber stated in a letter sent to all educators in our schools, “You, our Catholic school teachers, have been on our front lines. You acted out of heroic love, laying down your lives for the students and families whom you serve. You have proven why we in Catholic schools call this work our mission and ministry. As evidenced by your actions, your work is far more than a job; it is a calling. Each and every year your light shines brightly, and you do our community and our world an incredible service. This year - everyone noticed.”

Please join us in wishing our educators a Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. They deserve our thanks for the multitude of ways in which they live out our mission to prepare students to seek and fulfill God’s plan for learning and life. Their dedication to the church and our Catholic schools is invaluable, and I pray that they feel the blessing of the Lord on their work and the sacrifices they have made and will continue to make in this ministry. 

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids are an alliance of 31 vibrant learning communities (26 elementary and five high schools) serving more than 6,000 preschool through 12th grade students throughout West Michigan. Our schools inspire young people to grow in Catholic faith and grace, achieve more in school and life, develop creativity and character, and feel welcomed and cherished for their unique gifts. We partner with parents to awaken the whole child to a world of light and life — that grows better and brighter when children reach their potential.

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