From the Principal:
I’d like to highlight Diane Hoodhood. Every year she has almost 40 students pass the AP English 11th grade class. Her scores are very high - often averaging over a four. She is a tremendous, but demanding, teacher. She is also the department head and has been at West Catholic quite some time.
Please tell us about yourself.
As a child, I enjoyed playing “school” in our basement, which involved writing words on a chalkboard for my younger sibling to copy, teaching him to read and even creating math worksheets for him to complete. Needless to say, he cooperated because I was older and bigger. I wanted to be just like my teacher, Sister Bernadette. A voracious reader, I would walk to the library almost every day during the summer. I loved literature and writing -- and still do. Upon graduating from Aquinas College, I was hired to teach English at West Catholic High School. I earned my M.A. in English from Michigan State University and especially enjoyed my graduate program in London, taking classes and visiting a number of schools. I left Grand Rapids for Illinois, where I enjoyed my years of teaching in a public school; however, my mother’s terminal illness brought me back to Grand Rapids and eventually to West Catholic after the birth of my two children. While our current teaching tools are much more sophisticated than the basement chalkboard where I started teaching, my love of literature, writing and learning has not changed, and I am blessed to be doing what I love. West Catholic is home to me.
Describe your school.
West Catholic's mission is to form disciples of Christ through a dynamic, excellence-driven Catholic education. Inspired by Saint John Paul II, West Catholic is dedicated to the transformation of students who will live their earthy and eternal lives as humble servants of God. With our 17 Advanced Placement courses, several honors courses, dual enrollment Aquinas College courses, strong academic support program and numerous extracurricular opportunities, we have engaged and active students who thrive and who are well prepared for college and for the future. Our current enrollment is over 500 students, and we look forward to future enrollment growth and facilities improvements, including the Henry J. and Cheryl L. Makarewicz Academic Learning Center and the athletic complex expansion/alumni plaza (both opening in the fall of 2017).
Catholic schools are different because...
we educate the whole person: body, mind, and soul.
What drew you to teaching at a Catholic school?
My Catholic faith and values.
What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your greatest rewards?
Learning and teaching are synonymous--and I learn something new every day. When my students realize their potential, discover their voices and live their faith, I am humbled and inspired. Witnessing my former students take leadership positions in the Catholic church, in our schools and in our community is fulfilling. I also enjoy visiting with former students and corresponding with my pen pals: former students who keep me updated on their college and career adventures.
In your experience, what do Catholic schools do best? What does your school do best?
West Catholic provides students with the moral, spiritual, and intellectual foundation necessary to make a difference in our society and in our world.