January 27, 2017

2017 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Jesus’ example leads teacher on the best course for her students

Jeanine Ritter always has a feeling of joy when she is surrounded by her first-grade students at St. Pius X School in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

Jeanine Ritter always has a feeling of joy when she is surrounded by her first-grade students at St. Pius X School in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

As a first-grade teacher, Jeanine Ritter always looks for ways to make her students smile and have fun as they learn.

One day, her boys and girls will be connecting with students in Japan through video technology.

Another day, they’ll be learning about penguins in Antarctica by collaborating with a scientist living among the penguins.

They also make photo stories of a personal “hero” in their lives.

And during each Christmas season, they have a baby shower for Jesus, bringing in gifts for an archdiocesan program that helps parents of infants.

“Through all of these projects and others, my students love learning and take away valuable lessons about our world and their place in it,” says Ritter, a teacher at St. Pius X School in Indianapolis and a finalist for the 2016 Saint Theodora Guérin Excellence in Education Award, the highest honor for an educator in the archdiocese.

For Ritter, it’s all part of the most important lesson she wants to share with children.

“We don’t just talk about God during our religion class,” she says. “God is present everywhere. Every day brings with it a chance to praise God. The kids truly live their faith by helping others and showing acts of kindness each and every day.”

Ritter says she tries to set that example for her students by following the example of Jesus.

“Jesus was the greatest teacher and, in a Catholic school, we are called to follow his example every day,” she says. “It is our responsibility to be an example worth following. For this reason, I teach with compassion, understanding, patience and love.

“I treat each child as an individual child of God, working hard to understand their distinct needs and working to make each find success in their specific learning situations, both academically and socially. I teach acceptance of others and help each child find their gifts, strengths, positive qualities and passions.” †

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