Alumni Help Create "Little Christendoms" Through TeachingMay 20, 2011
Christendom offers six undergraduate degrees, none of which is a degree in education. Yet, over the past 34 years, a multitude of graduates have entered the field of education—at the primary, secondary, and college levels, teaching everything from religious education to history, math and science to physical education, philosophy to catechetics, and everything in between.
The ability to be a good teacher and to effectively hold an audience is oftentimes something that is inherited and based on one’s personality and character. But good teachers can also become better teachers through a well-rounded education in the liberal arts, particularly, through a Christendom liberal arts degree where an emphasis is not simply on the training of the mind, but the forming of the whole person.
|Emma Boyle ('09)|
For those students who are interested in the field of education, Christendom offers a
Teacher Formation Program, through which students are given real-life classroom experience, as well as the opportunity to shadow veteran teachers at the high school and elementary levels. This opportunity often aids Christendom graduates in their pursuit of employment upon graduation.
“Teaching is a natural fit for a Christendom grad,” Emma Boyle says. “As students, we were constantly impressed with the responsibility to share what we have been blessed to receive.”
A 2009 graduate, Boyle is a history teacher at Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, VA, a Nashville Dominican school. Originally from Gibsonia, PA, Boyle majored in History and minored in English while at Christendom.
“My liberal arts degree has shaped the way I view my career,” Boyle says. “I view it as a vocation. Because a liberal arts education is an education for life, it keeps me from seeing my job as only a job—it truly is a calling,” she says.
Inspired by the professors that she had at Christendom, Boyle attributes to them her ability to interact well with her students and colleagues.
“The model of professionalism, piety, and wisdom that Christendom professors set for their students has proved invaluable to me,” she says. “Also, the spirit and enthusiasm with which the Faith is lived on campus has definitely stayed with me—you cannot spend four years in that environment and not come away without lofty ambitions to evangelize.”
|Victor Alcantara ('05)|
Alumnus Victor Alcantara was also inspired to evangelize. A native of Hollywood, CA, Alcantara graduated with a BA in Theology in 2005, and then earned his MA in Theological Studies from Christendom’s Graduate School in 2010. He is currently a teacher and the coordinator for religious education at St. Louis Catholic School in Alexandria, VA.
While in college, Alcantara took some time off and spent time with a religious community, the Oblate Apostles of the Two Hearts, whose focus was the Catholic education of families. There, he was inspired to pass his learning on to others. He says that this desire to educate was “reinforced by the doctrinal and moral learning imparted at Christendom, where Christ was not only taught, but lived.”
He uses his Christendom education daily, not only in what he teaches, but how he handles any challenges that he may face. “The philosophy classes [at Christendom] helped me to think through any problem from start to finish—an invaluable resource when trying to help young minds grasp a new concept.”
He believes his Christendom education gave him an advantage in his teaching career. “A specialized degree in teaching would focus mainly on the ‘methods’ of teaching, rather than on the subject matter itself,” he says.
“The liberal arts degree not only imparts the academic knowledge, but also the ability to think and to see a thing as a whole rather than as fraction of itself.”
|Frank Nicely ('86)|
Alumnus Frank Nicely could not agree more. “An experienced mind—with all the intellectual disciplines in a liberal arts program—is essential for academic leadership, which requires seeing everything at once,” he says.
Nicely graduated in 1986 with a BA in Theology and is currently the principal of St. William of York Catholic School in Stafford, VA. Nicely says that his Christendom education defines his standards for student academic and spiritual formation, as well as his vision of Catholic culture. He seeks to give students a Catholic perspective of history, a solid foundation in Church doctrine, and a vision of the liturgical calendar as the backbone of Catholic culture and festivity.
“Simplifying things for kids shouldn’t mean watering down our rich heritage,” he says.
Boyle is doing the same thing at John Paul the Great. “I strive to bring the Christocentric view of history to each class,” she says, “and this is absolutely thanks to the professors and classes at Christendom.”
“I sometimes think all of us Christendom alumni are called to set up a ‘little Christendom’ wherever God plants us,” Nicely says.
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