Please tell us about yourself.
My totally awesome wife Carol and I have three sons and six grandchildren. I have been teaching in the Diocese of Grand Rapids for 20 years. For the last six years, I've taught middle school history and theology at Our Lady of Consolation School. Although I've always had a strong interest in history, being a religion teacher is the favorite part of my day. Before teaching in the diocese, I spent 20 years in the Air Force as a weather observer and forecaster.
Describe your school.
I teach at Our Lady of Consolation (OLC) School in Rockford. We are a preschool to eighth grade building with approximately 325 students. From the very first time I walked into the building, I knew that I wanted to be part of the OLC school and parish community.
Catholic schools are different because...
We weave our faith into each school day. Our Catholic identity is integrated into every school function, whether it takes place in the classroom, the lunch room, or the playground.
What drew you to teaching at a Catholic school?
This will probably sound a little odd, but I first thought about teaching in a Catholic school because I thought it would make my wife happy. She is an alumna of St. Isidore School and deeply values her time there. I didn't grow up Catholic, but once I walked in the door at OLC, I knew teaching in a Catholic school is where I was called to serve.
What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your greatest rewards?
As I mentioned earlier, teaching religion class is my favorite part of the day. In the past 20 years I have been a learner, too! I've learned so much about the Catholic faith right alongside my students. I could give up teaching any other subject, but not religion. My own faith has grown and deepened in ways that I didn't see coming. I am not the man I was 20 years ago. Greatest rewards? Watching your students grow and mature.
In your experience, what do Catholic schools do best? What does your school do best?
I think one thing Catholic schools do very well is partnering with parents to provide an excellent academic and spiritual education. Parent involvement in Catholic schools is a key component of our success. Our OLC parents are incredibly supportive of our school, staff and faculty. In fact, they make OLC School a great place to work and learn. Without their support we could not provide the quality education we are able to offer today.
From the principal:
The Our Lady of Consolation Board of Directors Service Award has been given annually during Catholic Schools Week for the past five years to an OLC school staff member who has been recognized by parents (with input from their children) and fellow staff members for outstanding service. The purpose of the Service Award is to recognize a practicing Catholic staff member who demonstrates exemplary Christ-centered behavior through excellence in service to OLC School. Service for this award is defined as the selfless giving of oneself to benefit others with no expectation of recognition, reward, or acknowledgement.
The ideal award recipient would display a love and understanding of their Catholic faith; articulate a commitment, not just to performing acts of service, but to living a service-focused life; demonstrate awareness that their gifts are blessings from God; and provide evidence of their intelligence, humility, and leadership ability.
This year’s winner recipient is Mr. Duane Parker. Mr. Parker teaches middle school religion and social studies. Mr. Parker has been on at OLC staff for a total of 17 years. Mr. Parker is well respected by students, parents and fellow staff members. Congratulations, Mr. Parker – well deserved!
To learn more about Our Lady of Consolation Catholic School, click here.