January 26, 2018

2018 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Educator sets high expectations for students—and herself

As the director of support services at St. Monica School in Indianapolis, Christine Exline leads a session with Elena Rosario, Jordan Mink and Teddy Isakson. (Submitted photo)

As the director of support services at St. Monica School in Indianapolis, Christine Exline leads a session with Elena Rosario, Jordan Mink and Teddy Isakson. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

As an educator in a Catholic school, Christine Exline sets the standard high for herself and her students.

“Quality Catholic education models the life of Christ,” notes Exline, who was a finalist for the 2017 Saint Theodora Excellence in Education Award, the highest honor for an educator in the archdiocese. “As teachers, we must be the body of Christ. We will hold our students to high expectations, but we will guide them along the path to meet these expectations.”

That combination of challenge and Christ‑like concern marks Exline’s approach as she serves as the director of support services at St. Monica School in Indianapolis. Working with students in different grades who need extra help, Exline sees the difference she can make to these children—and the difference they make to her.

She shares the story of one of her most rewarding experiences in her 18 years of teaching in Catholic schools. It involves a former eighth-grade student and a conference she scheduled for him—a conference to develop an educational plan for him.

“As an eighth grader, students are welcome to be part of the conversation about their education,” Exline says. “He did not want to attend the conference. He was nervous, and did not want to hear what was said about him. I encouraged him to be part of his story; that while it may be hard to listen to strengths and weaknesses, I wanted him to really take part in the conversation.

“Reassuring him that it was completely his decision, I attended the conference without him. Five minutes into the conference, he knocked on the door, having left recess to join me. He was nervous and uncomfortable, but he showed up. He knew I was showing up for him, and he wanted to show up for me.”

A few weeks later, the youth began a conversation with Exline, telling her he wanted to be like her when he grew up.

“He wasn’t sure he would be a teacher, but no matter what, he wanted to help people,” she recalls. “Tearing up in front of a small group of eighth-grade boys was a first for me, but I didn’t mind. That day, I knew how much I meant to them. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was where I needed to be, doing what I needed to be doing.” †

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