As school opens, there will be 115 new teachers in the classrooms of Catholic elementary schools in Brooklyn and Queens, 85 of whom are first-time teachers.
To welcome them and prepare them for their tasks, the diocese held an orientation day on Thursday, Aug. 31 at the Immaculate Conception Pastoral Center in Douglaston.
The day began with Mass in the chapel celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros.
“I thank you for all you do and all you will do,” Bishop Cisneros said. “I thank you for the sacrifices that you will make over the year.
“We all understand you could be making more money elsewhere, yet you make the sacrifice. The best thing about our schools – and what makes your sacrifices worthwhile – is that we can teach from our faith.
Teaching Virtues, Values
“We are created in the image and likeness of God, therefore you teach these values. We teach virtues, and in teaching virtues, the students learn it is more important to do good instead of just feeling good. Doing good is a sacrifice, and feeling good is selfishness.
“As Catholic teachers, I would like to emphasize to you the importance of going to Mass and that we teach as witnesses. I hope you understand that you are the true witnesses for your students.”
The teachers also listened to an encouraging talk from the diocesan Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, before breaking into small groups for discussion and workshops.
Dr. Chadzutko told the teachers, “I have seen a lot of excitement on everyone’s faces. The bishop mentioned it that maybe this isn’t the highest-paying job, but it is very rewarding. Come next week when school begins you teachers will all have a full classroom. We have built upon always making our mission, Mass and faith first.”
“You all have talent, you are all experts, you all can inspire your students,” he continued.
‘You Will Be Excellent’
“I know one day, maybe 40 years from now, I will be long gone, but one of you sitting here today will be up here and leading the next group. You are the future and you will be excellent,” he added.
Kelsey Reed, the new second-grade teacher at St. Mark Catholic Academy, Sheepshead Bay, is excited to begin classes.
“I have to admit I have some nerves, but I am very excited for classes to begin and meet my students,” she said.
Hope to Inspire, Share Faith
“Being able to come here today and see how many new and young teachers there are, has calmed many of those nerves because I see how many people are in the same boat as I am.
“I am ready to get the school year going and hope to do my best to inspire and share my faith with my students.”
Brianna Vurckio, the new kindergarten teacher at St. Peter’s Catholic Academy in Bensonhurst, was touched by the day’s events.
“We are learning how to communicate with our students and the community around us,” she said.
“It is a whole new world being in front of the students instead of being in the desks, and it is a new journey to be able to influence the children’s lives. The bishop saying how important the teachers are to their students really touched me and inspired me.”
David Lauro will be teaching English to fifth and sixth graders at SS. Joachim and Anne School, Queens Village.
“It was great to start with Mass and show what we are all about,” he said.
“I am excited to have my own classroom and get started. It is comforting to see how many new teachers there are and how many people are in similar situations.
“Yes, we need to teach the (academic) subjects,” Lauro added, “but we also need to share our faith and pass that onto our students, which is equally as important for them to learn.”