Home of the St. Pat Warriors

What’s Yours?

If you ask my family and friends for a list of things that I am passionate about, they would probably tell you exercising, reading, sports, music, singing in the car, the beach, and coloring. While these are all things I love and really like to do, nothing gives me more pleasure than gardening and working with my plants and flowers.

When I looked up the definition of passion, this is what I found: passion is a feeling of great intensity toward a particular person or activity, to love something of someone with a passion means you feel almost a burning drive to be involved. Passions give us purpose, but more than that, they make us feel that we have purpose in our lives. Passionate = emotional, enthusiastic, interested, alive.

How does gardening do this for me? In early spring I begin to get excited about seeing my perennial plants begin to poke through the cold, hardened winter dirt. When I see that first sign of green, I give a huge fist pump because my plants have made it through the winter months and soon will be budding, blooming, and blossoming with beautiful flowers. butterfly and cone flower 3

Gardening is also rewarding and relaxing. It gives me time to be alone – to reflect, pray, solve, create. It allows me time to process conversations, plan projects, and just enjoy being outside away from my desk, phone and e-mail. I can get lost for hours pruning for new buds to appear, weeding, and watering my flowers.

One of the most amazing things is watching the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds get drunk on the nectar from my beautiful plants. I lose track of time as I watch them go from flower to flower collecting pollen, all the while knowing that they are helping my plants become healthier and more vibrant.

Gardening is also hard work and can sometimes be disheartening when Mother Nature, a disease, or the deer come along and ruin a crop. Dirt under my fingernails, callouses on my hands, and scrapes on my legs are just a few of the wonderful side effects of gardening. The peace, satisfaction, and sense of accomplishment that gardening gives to me is second to none. Each season I learn more about how to take care of my plants – but maybe the truth is that they are really taking care of me!?

Find your passion and let it heal you, invigorate you, connect you to your deepest self. Go Warriors!

The Joy of Sharing

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Public speaking and “putting myself out there” has never been a strength of mine. I do it because I have to – it is part of my job and I am expected to speak in front of large groups of parents throughout the year.

This year, one of my goals and challenges was to get out of my comfort zone and push myself to improve in this area. (Be careful what you ask for!!) As soon as I  decided to work on this I was asked to give a presentation to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia principals on Genius Hour. Each October the principal’s meet in Avalon, NJ for three days of professional development and I was going to be one of the break out sessions. I was very excited to share the Genius Hour topic because I know how it has enriched our academic program as well as empowered our students to be creative and deep thinkers. However, the thought of talking in front of a room full of my peers and colleagues was daunting – was I really going to have something worthwhile to say and share? In the end, it was a good experience for me – I had lots of positive feedback and even a few principals who came to St. Pat’s to see Genius Hour in action so they could implement it into their school programs. IMG_1699

While I was preparing for the principal talk, a friend of mine was encouraging me to submit a proposal to the National Catholic Educational Association(NCEA). I jumped in with two feet and my proposal to speak about Genius Hour on a national level was accepted. A definite perk was that the national convention was being help in San Diego, CA,. What a beautiful place!

Right before I left for San Diego, a received a call from NCEA asking me to speak at their STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) Symposium at Neumann University. They asked that I share the STREAM water unit that St. Pat’s did in November.

As I prepared for all three of these talks I had the same thought: Why did I say “yes” to this? And, the answer to that question was always the same: it is because I was excited to share the wonderful things our teachers are doing here at St. Patrick School. I wanted to brag about the enthusiasm, the deep thinking, the collaboration, the planning, and so much more that SPS teachers do in order to improve student learning and engagement. I wanted to compare ourselves to other local and national schools and programs in order to gauge if we are on the right track. What I have found is that St. Pat’s is ahead of the curve – we are setting the bar and challenging ourselves to be better and better. Why? Because we want our students to be the best – we want our students to love learning and to have meaningful learning experiences.

Will I continue to do these talks? Yes, if I am asked. Will I ever be comfortable in public speaking settings? Probably not, but practice does make perfect! Will I continue to share St. Pat’s good news? Absolutely – even if it does mean speaking in front of large groups, because we have so much to contribute to Catholic education on a local and national level!

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It has been 2 weeks since I returned from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in San Diego. While the conference was enriching and renewing, I have been haunted by the number of homeless people I encountered during my morning runs along the beautiful San Diego Bay.

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At first, I tried not to notice – I tried not to look their way as they were removing plastic water bottles and soda cans from the trash cans. I tried not to pay attention to the man who took a half-filled Starbucks coffee cup out of the trash and drank it. I tried not to look into the eyes of the woman who asked me if I had any extra change while I was running in my brand new New Balance running sneakers, with my iPhone and Fitbit.

I have prayed and reflected upon these experiences for the past two weeks and they have made me feel uncomfortable and powerless. These encounters and observances make me aware of the disparity between their reality and my own sense of security and well-being. I feel embarrassed and fake – praying each morning on the loud speaker in school for “those who are less fortunate than we are, for those who do not have enough to eat this day, for those who do not have protection from the cold and rain” and yet, I do nothing when I come face to face with their need and pleas for help.

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There has to be hope somewhere in this experience, right? I find it as I reflect on God’s mercy during this Year of Mercy under the leadership of Pope Francis. At the heart of the call to mercy is the command to love our neighbors as ourselves—an easy task when it comes to friends and family, but much more difficult when we are faced with people who are different from us.

Here is my lesson learned: As I seek to live out the Gospel, I am reminded to challenge myself to be open to the love that only God can express through each and every person He puts into my life, particularly to the strangers who think and live differently than I do. If we open ourselves to these true encounters with others, then I believe we will find abundance and an encounter with Jesus Christ. Also, each morning I pray with the school, I remember those faces, those eyes, and recall that at those moments, I was looking into the Face of God.

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Simple Still Works

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As we celebrated Catholic Schools Week, I feel the need to write about something that really struck me while we were playing Bingo with the whole school. In an age and society where technology and over-indulgence rules and everyone “needs” to have the latest phone, tablet, device, or gaming system, it warmed my heart to see our students, grades PreK-8, having a blast playing bingo. And the prizes? A trip to the vending machine, an extra 10 minutes of recess, a tub of bubble gum, wearing a hat in school, or a bag of candy.

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The excitement and anticipation waiting for each number to be called was contagious. The smiles, cheers, claps, and chants lifted our cafeteria off its foundation!

Sadly, our self-absorbed society has told us that to help our children feel good about themselves, it is the adults’ duty to make our children happy. But underneath it all, kids do not need adults who make them happy. They need adults who will help them be creative, who will help them be capable, who will teach them to be responsible, who will help them be kind and caring, and who will provide them with safety.

We do not need to overindulge our children’s wants, but we could overindulge them with love. This love would mold and shape them into the young men and women they are meant to become – patiently helping them develop patience, patiently helping them deal with adversity and life’s bumps in the road, and with persistence give them age-appropriate jobs and tasks to complete within the family unit. As we do these things, we will be preparing their hearts and minds to accept the mission and path God has planned for them.

Simple still works – give it a try! Go Warriors!

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As we prepare for our celebration of Catholic Schools Week, I find myself thinking about what makes St. Patrick School so special. My first thought is our students, so it is fitting that they describe what they love about being a St. Patrick Warrior/Catholic Schools Week.

One of our 5th graders told me: I have been going to St. Pat’s since I was in Kindergarten. In my six years of being here, I have learned much more than science, math, social studies, and other subjects. I have learned that our mission at St. Pat’s is to love Jesus, to love others, and to try to help all those who need our help. All of us at St. Pat’s try to do this each day. Right now we are collecting cans for the Souper Bowl of Caring. Our goal this year is 2000 cans. I also love that we are the Warriors and that St. Patrick is our patron saint.

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An 8th grader said: Catholic Schools Week is dedicated to recognizing, honoring, and celebrating all who make our Catholic education special. I started St. Pat’s in Kindergarten and I am now an 8th Grader. The love for Catholic education among all of the students here at St. Pat’s is extremely high. We start and end each day with prayer, setting the tone that God is the foundation in our lives. During this prayer time we remember all of our special intentions. 

When I asked a 3rd grade what he loved about St. Pat’s, he said: I love that my parents send me here. I have great friends, I love Genius Hour, and I think every day is fun.

After gathering these responses, I realized there is not much more for me to say – our students have said it perfectly in their own words! Go Warriors!

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Magi Change Their Journey

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When I am travelling from my home to school, the most direct and shortest route is 401 to 30 to Old Lancaster Pike to Bridge St. to King Road. Although mileage wise it may be the shortest  route, it is not always the fastest or least frustrating depending upon the time of day and traffic.

This past weekend we heard the story of the 3 Magi going to visit the baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We know that Herod wanted them to come back to tell him where this “new born king” was, but they did not go back to Herod. Instead,”…they left for their own country by another road.” This last line of the Gospel reading has been stuck in my head since I heard it on Sunday. Why?022

What is the other road we take to get back to our country? If the “country” is Jesus, what is the “path” or “road”  we take to get to him? Is it time for prayer and works of mercy and charity? Is it practicing patience, lending a hand, offering a smile, welcoming a stranger, standing up for someone or for an important cause?

As I type these reflections, I realize that the above paragraph sounds good – and typical. But what about when the rubber meets the road and the people around me get on my nerves, rub me the wrong way, cause me to leave my comfort zone, cause me to reflect and change – do I continue on that “road” towards Jesus, or veer off into selfishness, gossip, and/or impatience?

The kings went back to their country by another road and in doing this they protected Jesus, the New Born King. Their road and direction was clear. Their “Country” was leading them to happiness and fulfillment.

Why can’t I get this passage of the Gospel out of my head? Perhaps it is because my “Country” is calling me to travel closer to him, to take the path that leads me to know him deeper, to long to be aware of his presence each day? Are we being asked to follow a new and more challenging “path”? I guess this New Year of 2016 will provide some answers to these many questions. Go Warriors!

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Listening to the Voice of God

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In the midst of a busy school morning, I was alerted to a homeless man being on the school property during our morning drop off procedure. I immediately thought of all the things I needed to do and that I “did not have time for this today.”

School security and keeping our campus safe for our students is always upper most in my mind, and as I approached the man I was focused on “getting rid of this problem” because I had other things that needed to be done.

The man in need was docile and praying his rosary on the bench in front of church. He was a little confused and could not understand why I needed him to leave the property while the children were present. I determined that I needed to call 911 and let the police “take care of the problem.”

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When the police officers arrived I asked them if there were any county services that could provide some assistance. We discussed possible solutions and presented them to our visitor.

My mind went immediately to sending out an e-mail to our parents to let them know what had happened and what actions had taken place. Within a few minutes of hitting “send,” I was overwhelmed with responses from parents asking how they could help – did we need money to give to the man, did he have a place to stay, had we checked out some of the county services and offered them to the man – concern – compassion – resources.

I was taken aback – quickly reminded of how I had missed the presence of God right in my midst – too busy and worried about my stuff. I was reminded of Pope Francis’ constant message to care for those who are in need – to be selfless. I was reminded of Mary and Joseph being turned away but finding comfort in a manger.

Thank you to those parents and families who quickly and gently reminded me that I missed the Message, I missed the Presence, I missed seeing the Face of God in another person. Go Warriors!

Mary, mother of all, help us to serve you by filling the hungry with good things.

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