January 24, 2020

Catholic School Week Supplement

Teacher and student learn together the blessing of lifting up each other

By John Shaughnessy

Jillian HollinsLike many teachers in Catholic schools, Jillian Hollins remembers a certain student who struggled in one of the first classes she taught.

Hollins also remembers how she helped that student, and how that student influenced her as a teacher.

“I knew she had potential, but she couldn’t keep up with the class, finish assignments or even just complete simple tasks,” recalls Hollins, a finalist for last year’s Saint Theodora Excellence in Education Award, the highest honor for a Catholic educator in the archdiocese.

“I talked with her parents and learned that she had been through a lot as a young child. We got her the help that she needed, and she began to improve in her work. It was amazing.

“What I did that year is now what I do all the time in my job as a teacher. I want nothing but success for my students. I will find anyway possible to help them achieve success. If they do happen to fall down, we work together on how we are going to pick each other up.”

Hollins also strives to include the Catholic faith in all her fourth-grade classes at St. Louis School in Batesville.

“In science, we learn that everything we have in this world was created for a reason. God has a great plan, and everything we have has a purpose,” she notes. “In math, I teach the advanced group of learners. I am continually telling the students, ‘You are so lucky. God gave you this great brain. Now, it’s your job to use it to its greatest potential.’

“In English, reading and spelling, I am able to relate Gospel stories to the terms, vocabulary and words that I’m trying to get the students to learn. We read and write about God, his influence in our lives, and how we can use our faith in all situations.”

Hollins also considers herself as a role model for her students, “showing them my Catholic faith by living like Jesus.”

“From the moment they walk into my classroom in the morning, I try to read their emotions and then have a positive effect on their lives. I want them to feel comfortable in our classroom and to come to me with anything. Being a Catholic educator allows me to not only influence how well they perform in the classroom, but how they treat others, and their attitudes about life, friends and school.

“I do this by giving students the same love, respect and encouragement as my own children. This takes a great deal of heart, and I put forth all of mine for my students.” †

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