Defining what it means to be a model ASC is like trying to put a puzzle together without the picture on the box. Each of us brings different gifts and talents to the table, and each of our schools has different needs that we try to fill (Anthony Re, ASC 27).
When I reflect on the type of education we offer students in our six schools – Jesuit education – and as we near the end of another ASC cohort year of service and begin to think ahead to what awaits next year’s Cohort 28 of teachers and mentors, I am wonderfully surprised by the wisdom of new teachers and mentors – that their extraordinary lives of service are lived in very ordinary ways but are beautifully illustrative of what even seasoned Ignatian educators perhaps sometimes fail to live.
Captured here are some of their reflections, during an ASC Cohort 27 year well-lived:
- I also saw a deep-rooted love for each student, wanting the good for them at all times . . . . I saw what I’d call Arrupe’s corona, a brief glimpse of the blindingly bright love the school offers, the fringes of the opportunities that lie within.
- Some sets I’m winning, others I’m losing. But as things are wrapping up on my first quarter here, I’m looking forward to another quarter, another set to play all out. And if I can keep my focus and learn from my mistakes, maybe, just maybe, I can win the whole match.
- I’ve learned to unearth the simplest joy in doing the simplest things around and for the school. These little joys in the midst of what otherwise could be grinding work are my moments of God stepping in, making me realize He really is in all things. I don’t always see Him in those different jobs, but He’s done a pretty good job reminding me here and there of His presence. And it’s comforting to know He’s there. Now it’s just about remembering that the next time I’m washing dishes.
– Kevin Buettner (Arrupe Jesuit High School)
- Of my many interests, which ones are being called at Rockhurst this year? Do I want to write environmental policy for the UN? Or do I want to be a poet? Why not both? And, in the midst of all this activity, how do I balance that time necessary for community? Intentionality is a start, but that’s a bit too vague. What do I need to be intentional about? How many things can I be intentional about?
- ASC is a clear break from a pre-determined path. There are few examples in our society of how to live a year of service, how to establish a natural community, and how to find joy amidst these ventures. Often, I find myself without the patience that joy requires, without the complete emptying of self it demands.
- Even just a few years removed, it’s easy to forget the context of the lives of the students at our Jesuit high schools scattered throughout the US Central and Southern Province. We are hoping to form our students to be Men and Women for and with Others, but our schools are one of multiple dynamic influences for each student.
– Brian Dugan (Rockhurst High School)
- Running is where I experience God and spirituality. It is about 7 miles from our ASC house to Regis Jesuit High School. Most of the route is through a huge state park named Cherry Creek Park. The scenery is something like out of U2’s Joshua Tree album . . . . My advice to my fellow ASCs is to find your way to experience God so that He may be present in your classroom. Put yourself in a position to succeed. While we may be way too busy this year, set aside time for God. He must be present in our lives so that He may be present in our classrooms. Sometimes that means waking up before the sun.
– Evan Jenkins (Regis Jesuit High School)
- My reasons to apply to Alum Service Corps (ASC) were manifold, but the ultimate decision was born of my desire to remain involved in and give back to the tradition of Jesuit education that had shaped me in innumerable ways for the last eight years.
- For years I have reminded myself of his example of patient trust in God, and I return to thinking about that more than ever now . . . . To pray in that manner takes a lifetime of practice—at least, I hope it does because I’m far from mastering it, myself—but I find myself increasingly mindful of reaching out to God in the most quotidian ways. Connecting with students and meeting them where they are to engage their interest is a great practice that can be prayer.
– K. Riley Dunn (St. Louis University High School)
- Another habit I hope to form—and I hope that all teachers at Jesuit schools form—is a subset of others: that of finding God in all things, and particularly in lesson planning. In addition to setting aside time specifically for prayer, the Jesuit slogan of “finding God in all things” allows us to follow St. Paul’s dictum to pray without ceasing, even as we work. A friend of mine who had recently been a teacher had said that lessoning planning may quickly become one of my most important forms of prayer.
– Dominic LaMantia (St. Louis University High School)
- For and with others, an Ignatian saying, ideology, and lifestyle. God has called us to not only work for those in need, but also walk the path, along with them. Whether it be in the classroom or in community, the nature of giving is always very prominent.
- I can still remember the day I received my acceptance into ASC. I scanned the page, glancing at each face in our cohort carefully, eventually reaching mine. There was one of these faces that was not like the others and of course it was mine. Race is something that has always been very prevalent in my life and I did not expect anything different when I joined ASC.
- The student populace that is served here is predominantly lower class, African American males – people I can relate to. This is what makes my work so meaningful to me.
– Quinn Peoples (Loyola Academy of St. Louis)
- Coming into this year of service, I was unsure of everything except for some unyielding feeling that I am exactly where I am supposed to be . . . . 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.
– Addee Phillips (De Smet Jesuit High School)
- As I drive to school under moonlight instead of sunlight, and while the radio plays Concerto for 2 Violins in D by Antonio Vivaldi, it hits me that I really have been given the grace to start living the life I’ve always wanted, and in a way, needed, to live. Everything about this new chapter is refreshing and progressive. All of it has been gifted to me by the Creator.
- It is wonderful to see myself enjoying life. I had so many things I wanted to do: write more, try and become published, workout and eat better, deepen and practice more intentionally my faith, take up photography, be more present and unplug more. All of these things have begun to take shape.
- The highlight of these last few weeks? A young sophomore named Paco (her Spanish name) who came up to me after class and said, “Maestro, I really love speaking Spanish now, it really is so fun!” What more can you ask for from a group of young women who are starting to realize their potential?
– Garrett Loehr (Regis Jesuit High School)
- God is love and God can be found in all things if I’m open to the joy He wishes to bring to my life. I have begun to settle into my year at the Rock quite comfortably, and I am loving every moment of it. I enjoy my time in the classroom, and I love getting to truly know the awesome young men I am privileged to serve this year. I am certainly here to teach them, but in turn, they are greatly teaching and changing me.
– Anthony Re (Rockhurst High School)
- Teaching requires you to be on, 100% on, every day, because your bad day means a bad day for dozens of kids. Especially at Arrupe Jesuit, our kids don’t need another bad day; they need a safe place, a positive place, where they can open themselves to the love and security that is otherwise absent in their lives. The pressure to live up to this expectation, which the kids so clearly deserve, can be intimidating. In the long commute across the street, a despondent exhale is often all I can muster before opening the doors to the school. “Morning Mister!” “Hiii Mister…” “What was our homework, Mister?” Morning greetings squeak as I walk through the door, always followed by the hilarious and endearing Arrupe Jesuit title of Mister, just Mister, no last name necessary. My face melts into a smile in spite of itself, and my heart follows. From there, everything else falls into place. They are the reason we are here. The only reason we need. They are the joy; and sometimes, joy is enough.
– Joe Simon (Arrupe Jesuit High School)
- I find myself suddenly in a position that I’ve never been in before. Less than six months ago, I was sitting passively in a classroom absorbing what was given to me. Now, I’m on the other side, but what that meant exactly didn’t hit me until my student asked me, “How do you remember that?” I am, for the limited scope of this class and this short year, a source of knowledge for them.
- There have been a lot of ways that I’ve identified over the course of my life, and though it shifted often (and especially through college), this is a brand new one. And teaching is only one area where this new identity comes into place, not to mention all the other things we’re asked to do as ASCs.
– Kurt Thiemann (Regis Jesuit High School)