Skip to main content

DifferenceMakers: Mary Hirzel

Read how Mary Hirzel makes a difference as a teacher at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Flint!

Please tell us about yourself. Hello! My name is Mary Hirzel and I teach fifth grade at St. John Vianney. I attended the University of Michigan- Flint and couldn’t wait to be hired into a school like SJV. I am in the middle of my second year at St. John Vianney and I am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful, faith-filled school.  

I believe in Catholic education because… in a world of challenges and uncertainty, our students need something to believe in. Catholic schools teach them that no matter how hard things might get, our amazing God is there to love them, support them, and show them the way to eternal happiness with Him. That isn’t something you find everywhere; however, it is why I’m where I am at today. I’m forever grateful and appreciative of the sacrifices made so I can experience this never ending love that a Catholic school provides.

Describe your school. St. John Vianney is a school where students, families, and staff feel welcome the moment they step through the doors. I have always described SJV as a family. We pray together, learn together, laugh together, and love one another; just as a family does. Each and every day begins gathered together in prayer, which allows each student to start their day knowing they can accomplish anything they set their minds to with God’s unending love and guidance.

Everybody has the potential to be somebody at SJV. Our small class sizes allow us to reach each one of our students and target their needs. It’s truly a special place!

 What drew you to teaching at a Catholic school? I grew up going to Holy Rosary in Flint and had some of the most faith-filled, caring teachers who influenced me to want to teach in Catholic schools. I wanted to make the same difference that my teachers made in my life while attending Catholic school.

I always knew I wanted to teach, but I also knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger. To me, there is nothing more special than being able to help kids grow in their faith, all while watching their minds flourish. It’s such a beautiful thing and I couldn’t see myself teaching in a place where I couldn’t intertwine education with faith. They go hand in hand for me. SJV is the “something bigger” I was searching to be part of.  

What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your biggest challenges? What are your greatest rewards? My favorite part about teaching is helping my students find success. I love to see the “lightbulb” go off in their eyes when something clicks! It’s very rewarding to see how much growth they show over a span of time.

My biggest challenge is finding balance. This often becomes my greatest reward, though. In these moments, I am reminded that God does not give us more than we can handle. He always has a way of reminding me of that when I need it the most!

My biggest reward is having previous students come back and thank me for everything I taught them. I love to hear about their successes and it means a lot to know how I have impacted their lives.

What do Catholic schools do best? Catholic schools do so many great things, but I think they are most successful at preparing their students to be successful. They challenge them, support them, and allow them to go into the world with a strong faith. Catholic Schools see each and every child as a beautiful gift from God, and help mold them into a true disciple of Him.

St. John Vianney creates well rounded students. When a student graduates from SJV, they have a firm foundation built of faith, knowledge, and character. Our students don’t just get a wonderful education, but they also learn how to treat others, how to problem solve, and how to use their faith to make our world a better place.