DifferenceMakers highlights teachers from Catholic schools in the Diocese of Lansing.
Welcome, Judy Schutte from Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hudson!
Please tell us about yourself as a teacher at Sacred Heart School
This is my 20th year teaching at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hudson. Currently, and during most of my time here, I have been a 3rd/4th grade teacher. I have a bachelor's degree from Adrian College and a master’s degree from Siena Heights University.
Describe your school from a teacher's perspective
This is a hard question to answer because to me, my school looks like home since it has been for me for 20 school years.
The students all know each other and the students and teachers all know each other. It is not uncommon to see older students helping and playing with much younger students. It is also a school where you see a vast variety of people helping out during the day from parents, to priests, to our deacon, to grandparents, to members of the parish.
What drew you to teaching at a Catholic School?
To be honest, I wasn't necessarily drawn to a Catholic school, I just wanted a teaching job and I wasn't Catholic at the time. I had only been married to my Catholic husband for a couple of years but I did feel comfortable going to church with him and his parents on occasion. My in-laws stopped by our house one day after Mass to tell me of a job opening listed in the bulletin and I got the job. A couple of years later I converted to Catholicism. Then I had a family, sent my children to school there, and never looked back.
What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your biggest challenges? What are your greatest rewards?
My favorite part about being a teacher has been the opportunity to share great literature with my students. I've been able to do this through read-alouds (I love it when the kids beg me not to stop reading), recommending books to students, and in a book club that I ran for a few years.
My most specific favorite memory was about ten years ago when two boys came into the room one morning and were talking enthusiastically about one of our book club books. They weren't excited about a TV show, movie, video game or sporting event. They were excited about a book!
My biggest challenges have been trying to motivate students to do work and learn about topics they don't always find fun or interesting.
My greatest rewards are the “thank yous” I've received from students and parents years after I've had the students in class. At one high school graduation a mother was in tears telling me how much I influenced her child and her family for the better. Those kind of testimonials mean so much.
What has been your favorite part about being a teacher?
My favorite part about being a teacher is that it is never boring. Even with a plan there is always the unexpected and the day flies by. Then of course, since I love to read, teaching reading and sharing books is also a favorite of mine.
In your experience, what do Catholic schools do best? What does your school do best?
Catholic schools are able to include the spiritual aspect of life into teaching and learning. As a teacher, you are able to help develop the whole child, not just the academics.
Our school is able to pray together every day. We start and end our day with prayer. When Sandy Hook happened, we got together in the hall right after we heard the news and prayed the Rosary. In my experience, I don't see too many public schools who are able to get together so often as a community like we are able to through prayer.
Please finish the sentence: I believe in Catholic education because...
I believe in Catholic education because it incorporates our faith into students' education and lives. I am so thankful I was able to send my two daughters to a Catholic school. They have a confidence and a strong moral compass that I know they wouldn't have had going to a public school.