43,200 minutes, 4 weeks (not including these things called faculty meetings), 30 days, or as some many say one month has been the time I have been serving as an ASC volunteer at Arrupe Jesuit High School (Denver, CO). As I entered those meetings at the beginning of August I had so many assumptions of what would happen and how the year may look. But of course, those uneasy assumptions were way off. I truly could not have guessed while sitting in those chairs during our faculty meetings that I would have experienced has much as I have in such a little time. I have been welcomed into the community of Arrupe that goes far beyond the walls of our newly-renovated high school. I have been shown inside and outside the Arrupe’s walls a genuine example of community.
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the word community thus far at Arrupe or even over my years being Jesuit-educated I would be a rich lady. But what makes this word different when being used at Arrupe is how it is truly embodied by every individual who walks through these halls. We are encouraged to open our eyes and our hearts to walk with one another as we face our own struggles and triumphs. Over the last weeks I have been amazed by how quickly the students have embodied the Arrupe Way and welcomed each other and new teachers into the Arrupe family.
Students are eager to learn from each other, learn from us, and truly engage with everyone and anyone they can. It is evident in our drives to Corporate Work Study Jobs in our 1994 Suburban amongst the laughs, singing, talking, and occasionally snoring at 7:30 in the morning. I see it among the faculty as we laugh through the chaos of each day and hate/love the shared sugar-coated treats in the kitchen that are contributing to the Arrupe 15. I see it during the chaos of lunchtime, as I scan each student in for lunch. Community is among us every day and continuing to grow as we do.
As I reflect on these last weeks at Arrupe I reflect on all the different communities that have welcomed me with open arms who were no more than strangers or acquaintances only a few short months ago. From the Regis University Jesuit community, to my roommates, to my coordinator, to my family, and in Denver friends I have begun to define and see the beauty that community can foster in new and refreshing ways. I have begun to see myself grow in ways I did not anticipate growing in. I have begun to see the beauty that comes from teaching.
A fellow ASC (Bradley Mueller) sent this quote to our cohort from Pope Francis:
“Teaching is a beautiful job; as it allows you to see the growth of day by day of people entrusted to your care. It is a little like being parents, at least spiritually. It is a great responsibility.”
It indeed is a great responsibility and a responsibility no teacher takes lightly. Over the last few weeks I have been overcome by happiness to have this opportunity to care for these students and see their growth. But even more so, I have been overcome by gratitude for the growth and care the Arrupe students, faculty, the Arrupe community has provided me.