January 29, 2016

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Veteran teacher embraces students and their differences

Annetta Brack shares a smile with Annie Hoff, left, and Marisa Marshall, two of her third-grade students at St. Michael School in Brookville. (Submitted photo)

Annetta Brack shares a smile with Annie Hoff, left, and Marisa Marshall, two of her third-grade students at St. Michael School in Brookville. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

In her 20 years of teaching at the same Catholic school, Annetta Brack has always had a special place in her heart for children who need an extra measure of love and compassion.

And she always smiles when she thinks of the girl that she offered a unique deal.

“A few years ago, I had a little girl who was being raised by her father,” recalls Brack, a third-grade teacher at St. Michael School in Brookville. “Her mother wasn’t part of her life at all. The girl had a challenging time being honest. I caught her in several lies before the first month of school had passed.

“I talked to her about how lying was never OK, and how Jesus always knows when we lie, even if no one else does.”

Brack also understood that the girl “wanted to be like everyone else.” So she used that knowledge to her advantage.

“We eventually got to this goal, ‘OK, you can only lie one time today,’ ” says Brack, a finalist for the 2015 Saint Theodora Guérin Excellence in Education Award, the highest honor for an educator in the archdiocese. “She asked, ‘It’s OK to lie once?’ My response was, ‘Well, you can, but no one else can.’ She said, ‘I want to be like everyone else. I won’t lie anymore.’ As far as I know, that was the end of the lies.”

Even though Brack knows that children want to “fit in” with their peers, she also encourages them to accept what makes them special.

“God made us all special, different and unique in his own image and likeness,” she says. “We must embrace our differences and each other’s. I’m very compassionate when it comes to making all children feel special and loved for their differences.” †
 


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