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DifferenceMakers: Anne Kennedy

Please tell us about yourself as a teacher. My name is Anne Kennedy and I am the 2nd grade teacher at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School in Ann Arbor. This is my second year at St. Thomas.When I arrived, the school immediately felt like home, due to the sense of community. The families are amazing and I feel honored to be a part of such an incredible staff!  

Describe your school from a teachers' perspective. Located in downtown Ann Arbor, this location and history foster a unique ambiance. The St. Thomas church is a historical landmark and the school community dates back to 1868. The students and staff are blessed with a rich learning environment due to a multitude of museums, cultural, science and university programs. Our ability to walk within the city to our field trip destinations further strengthens this sense of community. 

The families here are very helpful and involved. The staff is incredible. I feel so blessed to be a part of the St. Thomas the Apostle family. 

What drew you to teaching at a Catholic school? I grew up in a Catholic household.  In addition, I went to St. Sabina in Dearborn Heights from 1st to 8th grade. When I went to a public high school, I knew how important prayer and faith were in my life. I realized what a positive impact my Catholic education had on me and I wanted to provide that for my students. 

Another critical advantage of a Catholic education is praying with my students when they are having a bad day or a difficult time in their life. Additionally, I can teach them the true meaning of Christmas and Easter.   

I believe in Catholic Education because it has the ability to give each child an opportunity to know their Catholic faith and having God and Jesus be a special part of their everyday life. Catholic education is a critical catalyst for children to grow their love and bond for God and Jesus. They can learn through their example how to be a servant leader and to care for family and friends. Lastly, they carry these experiences with them throughout their lifetime. 

What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your biggest challenges? What are your greatest rewards?  My favorite part of being a teacher are the fun random quotes that children at a young age come up with. I need to make a book of them one day.  

Some of the biggest challenges about being a teacher are having the responsibility of trying to be that all-encompassing pillar of excellence at all times for all students. Sometimes your life connects you with a student who is going through a very traumatic time in their life or have special needs that sometimes seem overwhelming, but we have to look inside for strength to guide that child in the best way we know possible. We are lucky we have the ability to turn to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother to help us.  

The greatest rewards are having the children run up to me with excitement with hugs and telling me I am the best teacher in the world! I love to see a struggling student progress and grow emotionally, socially and academically during the school year. In addition, the joy of seeing the excitement in a student's eyes when they have an ‘a-ha’ learning moment and you can see their self-confidence glow!   

One of my favorite parts of teaching 2nd grade is the wonderful balance of childhood innocence and the beginning of academic rigor. I have the honor of guiding the 2nd graders through their sacraments of First Penance and First Eucharist. It is a very special and significant time in their lives and it is surrounded by excitement. 

In your experience, what do Catholic schools do best? What does your school do best? In my experience, Catholic schools have a wonderful sense of community and it feels very much like a family. 

In the classroom, we pray the Rosary and we pray for special needs in our personal lives as well. As a Catholic community, we say prayers together every morning and every afternoon. We have an all school mass every Wednesday and Adoration in the church every Friday. We have a special prayer program in our atrium that provides the students with a multitude of Catholic experiences such as prayer procession and in depth scripture reading reflection.  During Advent, we have all school Ceremonies and during Lent we hold Stations of the Cross.  

I feel these are irreplaceable experiences for every child and gives them a strong foundation of their faith to last throughout their lifetime.