It was not a typical Friday at Cardinal Gibbons. By 8 AM on September 28 more than 700 educators and administrators, from 29 Catholic schools across the Diocese of Raleigh, filled our school's hallways and classrooms eager to share teaching techniques for the coming year at the Diocesan Education Conference.
The catchwords at the bi-annual conference were clear – solidarity, union, and community; and the message was twofold: As Catholic educators learn from one another to guide students in their faith; and work together as a holy family to help schools impacted by Hurricane Florence.
Principal Jason D. Curtis described hosting the conference as an opportunity to serve Catholic school educators in the diocese. He said, "I was inspired by my colleagues’ genuine hospitality in caring for the many Catholic school educators that came to our campus, and all their generosity in donating funds and items to support schools and individuals impacted by Florence.”
Dr. Michael Fedewa, Superintendent of Catholic Formation and Education for the diocese, added: “We asked participating schools to bring gift cards, student book bags with school supplies, and other resources, that will be collected and given to Catholic Charities for distribution.” Additionally, he said, educators joined in prayer for the students, families, and educators still dealing with the effects of this storm, and the offertory collected during Mass, celebrated by Bishop Luis Zarama, will go to them.”
In his homily, Bishop Zarama told attendees that our schools can be beacons of hope for students, helping them, “to find sense in their lives, and to fall in love with our faith.” He added that as Catholic educators, “you can help students see how wonderful this creation is, that Jesus is in charge of it all, and that finding the truth about Jesus is finding the truth about themselves.”
Following Mass, participants attended two to three of the more than 97 workshops offered, many of them led by Gibbons educators. Workshop topics ranged from Catholic School and Social Media to Writing with Flourish and The Catechist Toolbox. Gibbons students also were on hand to help throughout the conference, even though Friday was a day off for them.
Gibbons alumna Victoria Phillips ’12, a first-grade educator at Immaculata Catholic School, was one of the conference attendees. (She is pictured right with 25 fellow alumni, including Gibbons educators, who attended the conference.)
For her, the conference provided an opportunity “to visit Gibbons, which is and will forever be like a second home to me, and see and talk with former teachers, as well as fellow alumni and fellow educators in the diocese.” She attended three sessions, enjoyed all of them, and plans to implement ideas she learned on using picture books in writing lessons in her class. As a PS, she added, “thank you, Gibbons for hosting.”