Editor's Note - Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 28 - Feb. 3) continues today and so does our special series that spotlights the amazing educators at Gibbons and what they learned from their equally-amazing students. The stories they share in their first-person accounts underscore that Catholic schools inspire students and educators alike to learn, serve, lead, and succeed, which is the theme of this year's celebration. Each day of Catholic Schools Week we will post one essay; and on this second day of the celebration World Language Educator Miguel Casas shares his story. Miguel has taught at Gibbons for 19 years. He currently teaches Spanish II-Honors and AP Spanish Language & Culture. He participates in retreats frequently and sings with the school choir. He is pictured above with some of his students.
Something I have learned from my students over time is to try to be more aware of what might be going on in each individual's life. When I started at Gibbons, 19 years ago, I was teaching six classes per day. It was easy for me to fall in the trap of seeing students in my classes as just groups of more or less similar kids, with good families and uncomplicated lives. It was my first high school teaching experience and, although I was loving it, I was also treading water to get everything done.
Through the years, and particularly thanks to students who led some of the school retreats, I realized the importance of looking at each student as an individual. The fact that some of the students who helped me to see that were retreat leaders brings me to something else I have learned from students - to be generous with time. Compared to our students nowadays, my high school life was a walk in the park. Other than taking care of my classes and playing all the soccer pickup games that I could, I did not have many other activities to fill my time.
I am in awe of many of my students who have a demanding workload, play a sport, belong to a club, volunteer in some capacity and, in some cases, top it all with a job to pay for their own gas and/or car insurance. And some of those same kids still find the time to lead a retreat, represent the school at some function or organize an event for, say, area middle schools.
Their example has often reminded me that there is something more important, and to trust God instead of stressing about the myriad lists of daily tasks.