Deriving Meaning 

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Coming into the month of November, it has been exciting to start deriving meaning out of this Alum Service Corps volunteer year. Changing from summer to fall, the beauty of fall has been seen in St. Louis at a refreshingly slow pace that I am not used to. This change of seasons has helped me to be able to derive meaning of this year coming through the three ASC pillars: spiritually, professionally and personally.

It’s almost like taking three variables (a, b, c) and compiling them into an equation that somewhat models this year and its ever-changing potential for growth. This concept of deriving meaning comes to mind after deriving the quadratic equation in my Algebra 2 class. I had no idea how hard it would be to explain this amazing equation to 16-year-old boys, but they championed through it with me, just as they have championed through this semester thus far with me. 

Spiritually: I have found a strong sense of spiritual support stemming from living in a house among six very different individuals. Living in the community we call DESLULA (De Smet, SLUH, Loyola Academy) has provided me so much joy, consolation and gratitude. We have taken huge strides to support each other in all that we do for our individual schools and the solidarity we share in the challenges this year presents to each of us. Six people provides for six different opinions and life stories which has helped me grow into what spirituality means to me. I am thankful for DESLULA, our abundance of shared laughter and our little routines that have bonded us together. 

Professionally: Teaching is hard. Teaching at an all-boys school is hard. Teaching as a young female at an all-boys school is hard. However, despite the difficulties every day can present, I absolutely love being at De Smet Jesuit High School (St. Louis, MO). I have learned so much from my students and from my colleagues that I will take into whatever my future professional life looks like. My students have taken remarkable strides in and out of the classroom, making for a very proud teacher. With this comes the beauty yet the challenge in being able to relate to them so well. My position as a young female math teacher at DSJ provides both me and my students for unique growing opportunities.  

Personally: I have found a new love for running in this year. Forest Park has become my escape and the foundation for what it means to take care of myself in this challenging year. In this caring for myself, includes finding fun things to do. One of my students asks me almost every other Friday, “Ms. Phillips are you going to find friends this weekend? Have you made any new friends yet?” I always tell him “No, De Smet is my life,” and honestly I mean it. I have DESLULA, but De Smet Jesuit is what I have decided to dive into this year, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

ASC = a(spiritually) + b(professionally) + c(personally), a, b and c could be considered growth constants/multipliers to each pillar, which varies day to day. Regardless of all of it, lies this sense of meaning and purpose deriving to become all that being an ASC has meant to me at this point in November and all that there is to look forward to.

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