Please tell us about yourself. Hi! My name is Jenny Zmiejko. I have been teaching third grade at St. Pius X Catholic School in Flint for 10 years. I was hired at St. Pius after I graduated from Saginaw Valley State University. I always wanted to teach second or third grade, so I was happy God called me to third grade at St. Pius!
Describe your school from a teacher's perspective. St. Pius X is an amazing school to teach at! We have one class per grade, so we are such a close community. Everyone knows your name and we truly are like a family. The students, staff, and families of St. Pius come together in times of joy and sorrow. We rally around each other no matter what anyone is going through. We are also a community filled with faith. Our students live their faith in God every day by their words and their actions. It’s such an amazing thing to witness an eighth grade student help a kindergarten student find a lost glove in the hallway.
What drew you to teaching at a Catholic School? I was fortunate enough to attend St. John Vianney Catholic School and Powers Catholic High School in Flint growing up. Spending my entire life in Catholic schools made me want to come back to Catholic education someday. When I was doing my field work in college and substitute teaching in the public schools, it always felt like something was missing. The one thing that was missing was God and being able to teach about my faith. When I heard that there was an opening at St. Pius, I jumped at the chance to come back home to Catholic education. And I am so glad I did! I truly feel God called me to St. Pius and back to being able to share my faith with my students.
What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your greatest rewards? My favorite part of teaching is being able to share my faith with my students. I love it when I can just stop whatever we are doing and just pray, or talk about times in my life that God has been there for me. I also enjoy watching my students' faces light up when they understand a hard concept. It’s fantastic seeing that lightbulb go off. They are so excited when their hard work pays off!
One of my greatest rewards is seeing my former students shine and grow as they enter middle school and high school. My first third grade students are seniors in high school this year, and it has been wonderful to watch them grow and accomplish their dreams.
What are your biggest challenges? One of my biggest challenges is finding the time to fit everything in! With all of the standards we have to teach, it’s hard to make sure everything that needs to be taught gets taught. Another challenge is teaching to meet the needs of all learners, but this challenge drives me to be a better teacher and push myself to change my instruction in order to reach all of my students.
In your experience, what do Catholic schools do best? What does your school do best? Catholic schools do many wonderful things, but the most important thing that they do is prepare our students for heaven. Of course we prepare them academically for their future, but Catholic schools teach our children how to get to heaven. St. Pius does this by incorporating our faith in all we do. God is a part of our day in every class and every subject. The kids lend a helping hand and show love whenever they can. They know the meaning of spreading the Good News to others.
Please finish the sentence: I believe in Catholic education because...as a Catholic educator, I get to teach my students about God every day. And that is a pretty amazing thing!