The Ignatian Volunteer Corps assignment at Escuela de Guadalupe Dual Language Pre-K – 7 school has been the highlight of my first months as a retired educator. From the first day, when I was quietly greeted with silent, polite waves and respectful eye contact to leading English and literature classes for 6th and 7th grade, the environment of the Escuela middle school was focused, friendly, and productive. It was quite a departure from my public school experiences in Denver Metro middle schools.
As a faith based school, each class begins with prayer: formal, informal, and welcoming. The expectations of completed homework, active listening, and total participation allows for deeper instruction and assessment. Parents are very involved in the educational processes and are quite active in all aspects of classroom, school, and community needs. Due to budget constraints, field trips are taken on public transportation where the students – in all grades – are well behaved.
After my first week I was asked to teach religion to the 4th and 5th graders. It has been a joy. Using the religion text as a guide we have studied the prophets, the Commandments, basic prayer types, and a host of seasonal topics. We created a way to remember the major prophets: J.E.D.I. (Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah), we created and filled our own Western Wall into which we placed our various types of prayer.
I have begun the comprehensive plan for the 8th grade trip to the Basilica de Guadalupe next March. We will have daily mass in Mexico City and complete our trip doing needed projects at a 1,000 student orphanage just south of the city.
It seems that I have found a home that has welcomed me and uses every skill, talent, and energy I possess to help this school and community thrive.