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Teachers train for new jobs at diocesan schools

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The gym at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington was filled with minds ready to learn during the new teacher orientation. Around 160 teachers participated in the training Aug. 14-15, where they heard presentations on topics such as curriculum, students with special needs and the mission of Catholic education.

Members of the Office of Catholic Schools addressed the teachers and prayed with them, including Superintendent Jennifer Bigelow. “I shared with them that I pray they take to heart Pope Francis' challenge of not being a sourpuss. Our students deserve to be taught by joyful and joy-filled teachers,” she said. “I also encouraged them to truly partner with parents in the education of their children. Kids are more successful when schools and parents partner together.”

Many of the teachers are new to their positions but not to their schools. Phuong Nguyen was a parent and teacher’s aide before joining St. Veronica School in Chantilly this year as a pre-K teacher. When her daughter began first grade at the school in 2010, she began taking classes at George Mason University in Fairfax to earn her bachelor’s degree. She also volunteered at St. Veronica until she was there so much they put her on the payroll, she said. This year, she’s going to Marymount University in Arlington to earn a master’s degree in education.

“Staying with St. Veronica is the perfect choice for me. My daughter goes there and I love their philosophy. I've known the staff for seven years,” she said.

Before her daughter began first grade, Nguyen had worked in retail and then as a stay-at-home mom. St. Veronica inspired her career change. “I started as an aide in pre-K and this is our fourth year. The program has grown so much and I’m so glad to be there,” she said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017