By Julia Fuhrman, Social Studies Department Faculty
"That's not Constitution Man and his bride, is it?" I called out to a couple browsing the aisles at a local farmer's market on a recent Saturday morning, referencing a skit they had performed when they studied American Government together in my classroom in 2004. "Please don't mention how long ago that was," said the young woman, as I introduced them to my husband and nephews who were with me.
As I start my 21st year of teaching at Delone Catholic High School, alongside five new faculty members - two of whom were once (and forever) students of mine, I've been reflecting quite a bit on this school community that I have grown to love and what it has meant for me. (Don't worry, I have no plans to leave here any time soon).
In August of 2001, at a party celebrating my parents' 25th anniversary, my high school religion teacher Fr. Cawley asked if I'd found a teaching position yet. When I admitted that I hadn't and was getting nervous, he suggested I ask the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker. Within a few days, my father called to tell me that an old family friend had taken a long-term sub position teaching social studies at Delone Catholic - but the school was looking for a permanent teacher. I called the school to schedule an interview after I'd faxed them my resume and credentials. I left the interview with a contract and started new teacher orientation just days later. It was a whirlwind.
Although I am a product of 13 years of Catholic education, I hadn't intended to teach at a Catholic school - but God had other plans for me. In fact, after I was hired, Sr. Ann, my elementary school principal, told Principal Thiec that she'd told my father when I was in third grade, "That girl is going to teach in a Catholic school one day." Dad confirmed the story - one I'd never heard until after accepting the position. I am where I was meant to be.
I've often said that the Holy Spirit taught all of my classes in those first years - I was just a vessel. Mrs. DiPuppo called me "little girl" for years until someone younger than me was finally hired. I still remember being mistaken for a student at a school dance by a parent whose child was in my class. And, tucked in my wallet are two Delone Catholic student IDs from the years when the school picture people thought I was an 11th and then 12th grader. The point is - I grew up here in Squire Country - from a kid just out of college to a seasoned educator and chair of the Social Studies department.
I am eternally grateful for the many colleagues who have mentored me throughout my years here. I started at just the right time to learn from some real legends - Mr. Glessner, Mrs. Schlack, Ms. Buehler, Mr. Franko, Mr. Breech, Mr. Sagedy, Mrs. Keeney, Coach Staub, Coach Dooley, Sr. Jackie, and my "Mentor Lady" Miss Kerr. That list could go on and on. They provided invaluable encouragement and advice on more occasions than I can count. God Bless them all, and the many other fine educators and staff that I have worked with over the years.
I am also indebted to the many hundreds of students, who sat through my lessons as I slowly became a real educator. There is a lot of trial and error that goes into the art of teaching. My teaching hasn't always been perfect, but I hope my students learned some things along the way. And I hope they know how much they have taught me too.
Finally, I am thankful for the Delone Catholic families. Not only have these parents chosen to partner with us in preparing their children for life, but they have embraced us teachers with love and compassion. For all the times they've stopped me at a store or restaurant in town to tell me what our graduates are doing now, for all the times they've prayed for us, for all the treats they've dropped off in the faculty room, for all the times they've provided what we needed to keep our programs going strong - I thank them.
I am so excited to see what my next decade in Squire Country will bring - I hope I'll see some of my students' children in my classroom where their parents once sat.