January 29, 2016

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Religion teacher hopes his approach will connect students with God

Religion teacher Daniel Klee chats with his students at Christ the King School in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

Religion teacher Daniel Klee chats with his students at Christ the King School in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Daniel Klee is always looking for an opportunity to connect Bible stories to everyday life for his middle school religion students.

“For example, in the seventh grade, when we read the story of the Good Samaritan, the students learn that they are to live the Samaritan’s compassionate act by encouraging a downcast student, including lonely classmates, or simply listening to one another,” notes Klee, who teaches sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade religion at Christ the King School in Indianapolis.

For Klee, it’s all part of the process of stressing the bonds that connect us, a process that will hopefully lead to unity with God.

“Jesus lived in a divided world, and middle school students today face many issues of division whether due to family circumstances, feelings of social isolation or even self-identity,” notes Klee, a 2015 finalist for the Saint Theodora Guérin Excellence in Education Award, the highest honor for an educator in the archdiocese. “It is comforting and challenging to know that a fundamental principle of Catholic teaching woven throughout my curriculum is unity.”

Klee takes a three-year approach with his students.

“In the sixth grade, students learn that God chose to send Jesus for our salvation. We talk about ways we can harm our close friendship with God, as well as how we can participate in the sacraments that Christ made possible to restore our friendship with him.

“In the seventh grade, students learn that we are to develop responsible relationships with an emphasis on honesty, love and respect. I ask the seventh-graders to develop modern-day situations in which they must express these values of unity.

“In the eighth grade, students develop a moral conscience informed by Church teaching. Students read about different moral dilemmas, and then respond with how a well-formed conscience would help them make the right choice.”

It all leads to one goal.

“The challenge for the students is to apply what they learn to their own lives, so that one day they can be in union with God in heaven.” †

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