The longest year of my life and it has flown by. I'm not sure how my infancy went (and my mother may disagree) but I'm sure I've never shed as many tears as I have over the past year. A year since I've lost my partner. My wife. Your best friend. Your daughter, sister, and aunt. I used to include Teacher with that listing but I've realized we haven't lost that part of Shannon. She continues to give us a never ending lesson and inspiration. Shannon is still doing more for me and many of us than she will ever get the chance to know.
At this time last year I was holding Shannon's hand as she lay peacefully in her bed at Tom Baker Cancer Centre, surrounded by family and friends. We took over the palliative care unit for a few weeks as we all shared stories and laughs with Shannon and each other. The love and sense of purpose we all shared during those difficult times is a memory I often look back on and smile.
She took her last breath one year ago today but with that left a legacy that will live on forever. There have not been many conversations over the past year that haven't included some of her stories or powerful messages. I love talking about her and have found it's a common love among those who have ever been given the fortune of knowing her. There have been so many conversations based around Shannon and her spirit. Her optimism was unbelievable and will always remain so prevalent in my mind. With so many things working against her she didn't ever seem to have trouble focusing on what she had working in her favour.
It's been a long time since I've kissed her good bye. I still hear her voice "I love you, I'm going to miss you." It breaks me up, but fills me with pride. I shared something beautiful with someone beautiful. Nothing will take that away from me.
We all lost a lot one year ago. This date is a painful reminder for us all to enjoy life as Shannon did. Smile. Love. Laugh. Think about Shannon on this day and share a story about her, laugh for her, raise a glass for her, do something in her honour. Remember her and the incredibly inspiring person she was.
She is so strongly loved and missed. She left us too soon but she left us with such a powerful message and lesson. Go and enjoy life. It's easy.
What a teacher...
By: Dan McNeil
Posted with Permission
Originally posted on http://shanielmcneil.blogspot.ca/
Theology on TAP will be returning next Thursday the 24th of September at Boston Pizza starting at 3:30PM. For anyone who has not heard about Theology on Tap it is a discussion group that meets once a month to have theological discussion in a friendly setting...don't worry, you don't need to have any background in theology to attend and enjoy!
Our first topic for the year is "The Catholic Workout" looking at how we can practice our faith in exercise and sport. Feel free to check out the book "The Catholic Workout" by Michael Carrera which inspired this discussion. All district teachers and parents are welcome to come and join our discussion.
The new school year is officially underway! I had thought about posting something about that in the first week but I thought it would be better to wait until those first few weeks of intensity had settled and everyone - admin, teachers, students, parents, and support staff - could let out a small sigh of relief as we start to get in to the swing of things.
Matters of Faith
To start things off we have our first full school liturgy coming up this week which is looking to be something really special. At the liturgical meeting for the start of the year it was agreed upon that we really want to incorporate the arts into our liturgies like we had in previous years. So for the students reading this and the parents and guardians that join us you are in for a treat this year of the senses at the HT liturgies. Many thanks go to our arts teachers for all they do! Along with our liturgies the Holy Trinity Wednesday Mass will be starting very soon. This is something I am really looking forward to, my helper students involved with mass are all either in the band or in the choir and both groups are excited about making our Masses even more beautiful. The students are already buzzing about the different retreat options that they have coming up - more on that in future posts! I have had the opportunity to wander around and join many classes already and meeting all the new students has been wonderful. T
Topics in Humanities Symposium Series
The Topics in Humanities Symposium is an extra curricular group of students who are passionate about research in the different fields of humanities are are bringing 30-60 minute symposium talks to the school once per month. These talks take place during the last week of the month and are a great way to become involved with a research and presentation group. The first topic is Online Harassment and it will be held Monday of the last school week in September.
Those of you who follow this website may have noticed that over the
summer I took a break from posting articles and interest pieces on the site. These will be coming back really soon. I have people who are all over the world who want to write articles for the site and have their voices heard. I even have some students who want to post things.
Thank you all for reading and keeping up with the site and what is happening at Holy Trinity and FMCSD,
Teaching at a Catholic school has been a tremendous experience and the
rewards have far exceeded the challenges. More specifically, I had the opportunity to teach religion. I will admit, coming into the role, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Thankfully, the staff here has been amazing and everyone was more than happy to help me out. In the beginning, I was given any and all resources that I would need to prepare my lessons for the course. But as time went on, I discovered something: religion as a course wasn’t necessarily about the assignments, the homework, the tests, the projects, or even the content: it was about the experience. Students came into my class for ninety minutes every day and had an experience. They were able to discover so much about themselves and each other in a way that other courses can’t provide.
One lesson in particular stands out when I had that “aha moment”. Chris
Poulsen came in to the room and had students do an activity in which they had to say something that they liked about themselves and something they wished for another. As students read out their answers one at a time, he said to me, “We have students who are leading a prayer by valuing themselves as persons and others in their community, this is what it’s all about.” Students learn to experience God's grace and presence in their lives through their relationships with family, friends, and teachers. As a community we celebrate our successes and achievements. We share personal obstacles and downfalls. As a result, we unite together in solidarity, and even challenge each other to reach our full potential.
I feel very blessed to be a part of this family at Holy Trinity and to have had this opportunity in my first year. I will also be teaching religion again next year, and even though I am trained in and specialize in the sciences, I am looking forward to this course the most.
Written By: Brett MacKinnon
FMCSD Teacher who has completed his first year teaching religion
I've wanted to be a nurse, lawyer, psychologist, veterinarian, chef, astronaut, but never a teacher. As I stood in front of my very first english class, about twelve hours after I got off a plane in East Asia, all I could think about was how I had no idea what I was doing. I had no formal training in education, or even my target subject. As fifteen stern businessmen stared at me, armed with nothing more than a textbook written entirely in a language I didn't speak, I fumbled through my first class. Then my second class. Then my third week.
On my first teachers day, four months into my teaching journey, a student gave me homemade chocolates she had made, accompanied with a note written in barely legible English. The note praised not only my teaching ability but also my kindness and warmth. The chocolates tasted horrible, and the note was likely a reflection of my poor teaching skills, but I went to my office and cried. That was the first time I felt connected to a student.
From there my connections only grew. I found myself spending my dinner breaks correcting assignments, listening to students practice speeches, explaining a concept to a student for the eighteenth time because I knew they were just "this close" to getting it, and drilling students on their vocabulary words before their college entrance exams. I remember comforting a student, while she cried because a girl in her class made fun of her. More than once I listened while a high school boy told me the academic pressure from his parents was too much. I spent countless classes explaining to my middle school girls that beauty is subjective and that yes, you can be a woman, a mom and a police officer.
Pretty soon I allowed myself to become invested in my students academically and personally. I genuinely cared about what was happening in their lives. They would bring me their tests from other classes to show off a good score, or show me pictures of their weekend trips with their families. The more invested in my students I became, the better teacher I became. Soon, they were no longer nameless faces filling my classroom, but individuals with unique goals, abilities, strengths and quirks. I finally learned what is meant by “no two students are the same, and no two of students learn the same.” I found myself celebrating their accomplishments, which only drove me to work harder to help my students succeed.
I am the last person to tell you that I love every minute of teaching. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I question everything I am doing, often within the the same period. I do know however, that when I’m in the classroom I find that I am pushing myself to help each of my students flourish. Their is a unique and beautiful joy that comes from a student having an “aha” moment. Becoming a teacher has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I never wanted to be a teacher.
Written By: Kassandra Collett
First Year English Teacher in South Korea
I'm Catholic and I'm a gamer. Let's get both of those things on the table before I go any further. It is a testament to my love of wonderful stories with gripping plots, vicious villains and persistent protagonists. I've asked myself the question of whether my interest in video gaming makes me less of a Catholic. To me, that's a resounding 'nope!'.
My Catholicism couldn't be better represented in my gaming tastes. I've spent the better part of ten years smiting evil and taking names in the wide World of Warcraft. I love the game play, the campy cartoonish artwork, and most of all the vibrant gaming group I've played with for the entirety of my World of Warcraft history. While working as a Classroom Support Teacher in Fort McMurray Catholic Schools, an overarching theme was the sharing of time, talent, and treasure. Through gaming in an open social world, I share my time, talent, and treasure with others even when socially isolated in small town. I tend to my family, my work, and my faith while engaging in activities I enjoy.
Maintaining faith and gaming is all about understanding the role of gaming in your life. Respect the wellbeing triad: physical, mental, and spiritual health. It's deceptively simple. Eschewing either of them is damaging. Doing so shows lack of appreciation for your time, talent, and treasure. I spend some of my scant free time gaming, it's for my enjoyment and (since I play cooperatively online) the enjoyment of others. Mind yourself. If you're a gamer, don't let it get in the way of your commitment to faith. Embrace it as something fun and life-enriching, not the sole reason for living.
Written By: Josh Whittle
Former FMCSD Classroom Support Teacher
Currently in Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (All Grades)
Working towards his Master of Education
Religious education is a hard sell to many in today's world. Does it belong in the public sphere? Should it be contained to a church? Should everyone be exposed to religious education? My answers are yes, no, and yes. Correct religious education is not only part of a good liberal education but it can be a transformative experience.
I say "correct" religious education because I do not believe in simply teaching religion as a set of rules and practice's to be blindly followed. This usually leads to empty fundamentalism or complete disinterest on the part of the student.
Religious education is a transformation. It is, like the parable of the sower, a spreading of the seed. It lays a foundation that helps develop faith in youth. Through tying religious education into lived experience it is possible to nurture a Christian faith and take it out of the stale repetition so often seen these days, making religious praxis part of daily life.
Additionally it is a fact that many youth do not attend church and that many who do are not understanding the liturgy. Religious education can be the only formal exposure many people have to the church and the church's only chance to preach and teach the good news of Christ to the youth.
It is this transformative, experience driven purpose that has so shaped my own faith development and personal growth. Religious education is vitally important and I firmly support anyone who dedicates themselves to this great mission.
Written By: Thomas Watson
Saint Paul University Graduate
Currently working towards his Masters in Religious Education.