Sunday, 19 April 2020 12:42

Honoring our teachers

Written by Andrew Hansen and Diane Schlindwein

Presenting the first annual St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award finalists

We asked everyone from across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois the following questions: What teacher in our Catholic schools is making a big difference in the classroom? What teacher goes above and beyond, someone whose impact is deep and personal? What teacher authentically lives out what it means to be Catholic and instills our faith into his or her students? What teacher embodies St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded Catholic schools in the United States?

The diocese received nearly 100 nominations from principals, teachers, parents and students. The teachers who were nominated are from all corners of our diocese. A team consisting of former educators in our diocese poured through the nominations and read all the stories of impact about each teacher, narrowing the list to five finalists. After students return to school, we will reveal the winner of our first annual St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award. However, in this edition of Catholic Times, we present the five finalists, along with some quotes taken from nomination forms:

Debby Allen

Debby AllenSixth-grade teacher
St. Francis/Holy Ghost School, Jerseyville
Teacher at SF/HG since 1997

“Debby Allen exemplifies the description of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award. She is very hardworking and extremely dedicated to our Catholic school. Debby goes about her teaching in a quiet, selfless and unassuming manner, never seeking recognition or accolades for herself. She goes above and beyond her teaching responsibilities to give extra attention to each child’s social and emotional development. A good listener, Debby is skilled at helping preadolescent students deal with emotions and peer relationships. …. In addition to being available to her students, Debby is also a mentor for young teachers, a resource for parents, and a friend to her colleagues. She is friendly and positive and has that quick wit and contagious smile that endears her to everyone she encounters.”

— St. Francis/Holy Ghost school board member

“Debby Allen is a true disciple of Christ. She thinks of and helps others before herself. She is respected because she’s interested in the kids and wants them to succeed in school. She is disciplined with kids and they understand what’s expected from her. She is a religious person, attends church on Sundays and displays a Christ-like character, always positive, caring, listening and putting others before herself.”

— St. Francis/Holy Ghost parent

Craig Brummer

Brummer CraigTheology teacher, freshmen and juniors
Father McGivney Catholic High School, Glen Carbon
Teacher at Father McGivney since 2017

“Mr. Brummer is such a dedicated teacher who puts in countless hours for the students at Father McGivney, all with an upbeat disposition, genuine concern for each student, and strong faith formation for our young adults, which is critical in today’s society. All of this builds such a positive rapport with students that their learning experience is enhanced all the more. … Mr. Brummer does an exceptional job serving as the hands and feet of Christ and should be recognized for his hard work and dedication as a Catholic school teacher. “

— Father McGivney Catholic High School parent

“Craig is a caring, compassionate teacher who gives so much of himself to his students. … He attended college at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He spent a semester at St. Meinrad Seminary as he was discerning a vocation to the priesthood. He then felt called to teach theology, to share his love of Christ with students. … Mr. Brummer makes a connection with his students. He shares his faith with his students. And I think he helps them to become stronger, faith-filled persons, building on their Catholic faith. In addition to teaching, he shares his time and talents in organizing Mission trips and takes students to the March for Life. … He has started clubs for the students for extracurricular activities. I’ve spoken to many parents over the years and have received such compliments from them about Craig. They love him as do the students.”

— Family member

Janine DesMarteau-Morris

DesMarteau MorrisPre-K 3-year-olds
Christ the King School, Springfield
Teacher at Christ the King since 2018

“Ms. Janine is the perfect first teacher for a child to have. She does not just teach the Catholic mission; she is a radiant example of love in action as well as how to treat your neighbor as you want to be treated. Ms. Janine has just the right mix the motherly love and stern adherence to the rules, which keeps students reaching her high expectations. Making Ms. Janine proud has been something important to both of our children. … She has a beautiful way of molding their minds, shaping their habits and opening their hearts to God’s love and goodness.”

— Christ the King parent

“Ms. Janine is so wonderful with the children she interacts with on a daily basis. Being the first teacher these children are exposed to for their academic career means so much to me as a parent. She is so kind, patient and loving of her ‘special friends.’ Having someone who cares so much for my child is so comforting during the day. My child comes home every day with so much excitement to tell me about her day. I am also amazed at the skills my daughter has learned in just a few short months related to religion, phonics, and social skills. Ms. Janine is such a role model to all and is very deserving of this award!”

— Christ the King parent

Mary Marti

Mary MartiSixth-grade homeroom English, grades 6, 7, 8
Holy Family School, Granite City
Teacher at Holy Family since 1989

“Mary Marti is a master teacher. She will be retiring from Holy Family School at the end of the school term. Her Catholic faith shines in her work with her students. During her more than 30-year Catholic school teaching career, she has been a spiritual guide, mentor, and guardian angel to hundreds of students and fellow faculty members. To give you a glimpse into this beautiful woman’s soul, I will quote the answer she gave to the question: What has your Catholic school experience as a teacher meant to you?

To quote her, Mary said, ‘Living and working in the Springfield diocese has given me a lifelong appreciation for the many, varied spiritual experiences of which I have been a part. Being blessed with the great pillars of faith who always guided me in the right path, my parents, my other caring family members, St. Joseph Catholic School led by the Dominican Sisters, and dedicated priests, I have always been inspired to continue to learn and understand the richness of the teachings and traditions of our Catholic faith. I believe the most important role of a teacher in a Catholic school is to teach more than just the basics and to make the teachings of the church relate to the student’s daily lives at their own level and in all subject areas. I hope I have made a difference and given students an appreciation and love for God’s plan for them. I have always encouraged them to continue to be open to the lifelong journey in their role in the Catholic Church and in ways to serve God and others.’

Mary Marti’s own thoughts say so much more about her character, her dedication to the Catholic Church and to her students, than the endless list I could compile of the myriad awards, accomplishments, and countless service hours she has lovingly devoted to her vocation. Thank you for considering this remarkable lady as a recipient of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award.”

— Holy Family School colleague

Christine Mattis

Christine MattisMath teacher, grades 7 and 8
St. Francis/Holy Ghost School, Jerseyville
Teacher at SF/HG since 1973

“I am nominating Mrs. Mattis because she dedicates time to all students, in order to help them thrive in school. As a seventh-grade student of hers, I am on the MATHCOUNTS team, and we have practices after school on her own time to prepare for our competitions. She also buys us snacks and makes the academic experience fun. Even in the summer, she opens her home to students in order to make participation in a learning experience fun. At her summer math camp, we do worksheets, eat snacks and win prizes. Early in the morning, before school, she helps students complete work when they were sick or not at school. After school, Mrs. Mattis tutors students from schools throughout our town, and strives to help all students if needed. She has heard back from many former students, exclaiming how much her teaching helped them in high school. She is assiduous and diligent in her instructing and is a true role model of commitment. Mrs. Mattis demonstrates values taught by Jesus in her daily life and is an impactful teacher.”

— Current student

“I am nominating Mrs. Mattis for this award because of her time and dedication to her students. Mrs. Mattis will come early almost every morning and help students. She also usually gives up lunches to help kids. I know that without her, I probably wouldn’t be confident in math. The amount of effort she puts into her class and the math team is amazing! She has an amazing MATHCOUNTS team and Mrs. Mattis is always there to help you. She deserves this award because she works hard and should get more recognition.”

— Current student