January 26, 2018

2018 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Cherished note reveals the power of a teacher’s encouragement

Mary Alice Knott of Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville helps Bishop Edwards with a math problem in her class. (Submitted photo)

Mary Alice Knott of Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville helps Bishop Edwards with a math problem in her class. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

The touching moment for Mary Alice Knott came unexpectedly during a high school football game.

As a teacher at Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville, Knott was watching the Pioneers play when a former student approached her.

“He opened his wallet,” recalls Knott, who was a finalist for the 2017 Saint Theodora Excellence in Education Award, the highest honor for an educator in the archdiocese. “He showed me the torn corner of his midterm which contained a note I had written to him as a freshman. For many years, he has kept the note in his wallet as a constant source of encouragement.”

Knott has taught math for 26 years at Providence, but it’s such notes of encouragement on exams and in retreat letters where she has left her most lasting mark on students. Her greatest treasures from her teaching career are the countless e-mails, notes and cards she has received from students.

“I am very humbled,” she says. “Being a Catholic educator has allowed me to be personal and prayerful in my profession. I am strong from the relationships I have built as a Catholic educator.”

Her relationship with Providence extends through much of her life, dating back to even earlier than 1973, when she was a freshman at the school.

“I first entered Providence as the youngest sister of three former graduates,” she says. “For years at the supper table, I would listen to the high school stories of my siblings. Anticipating the experience of making my own stories, I was excited. High school could not begin soon enough.”

Now she sees that same excitement in the freshmen when they arrive at Providence.

“Each year, I am warmly reminded of my own family, of myself entering the same door, guided by my parents, my siblings. This place is and always will be family to me. And that is Catholic education to me. Sharing my family, my prayers, my lunch, my hard work, my guidance, the same community, the same faith, exalts me.

“I am the best I can be because I can share my religion and my life with others around me.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!