A Teacher’s Perspective: How St. Lawrence Seminary High School Changed My Life

_MG_9816-179117-edited.jpgWhile each student’s story of how he came to St. Lawrence Seminary High School and why he chose to stay is unique, so is each and every teacher’s story.

Very few people probably expect their first job out of college to be their last. They likely look at it as a stepping stone to the next best thing. But for a lucky few, their first job can be not only a launching zone but a landing pad. I was one of those lucky few. I was hired at St. Lawrence straight out of college. Mine was only one among a sea of applications, but it was my first interview and my first job offer. And besides knowing I wanted any job, I also knew I wanted this job.

Working at SLS was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss, not only because I had just walked into a real-life Hogwarts (yes, that’s a nerdy reference, but trust me, if you see our Hill, you’ll understand my first impression), but also because I had been impressed like so many of our prospective students — by the college prep curriculum and the unique atmosphere.

But while I took the job for several reasons, I stayed for so many more.

SLS is all about family.

Our students, in a sense, leave their families behind when they choose to live at SLS, but we help them build a bigger family when they’re here — forming a brotherhood with their classmates that lasts well beyond their four years on the Hill. And that’s exactly what I’ve gotten to experience with the other faculty and staff members on the Hill.

Some of my colleagues have become my dearest friends. I know any one of them would be at my door to help in a crisis, and they’re often the ones I want to celebrate an accomplishment with first. That can be a rare thing to find in a place where you work.

At SLS, I get to be more than a teacher.

Since the students at SLS live away from home, it’s very easy and even necessary to develop relationships that extend beyond the 45-minute class period. Students need to know they have someone who knows them, who sees them, and who cares about them, and getting to know my students as people (not just as students) means that I’ve gotten to know some amazing individuals.

As our Senior Religion teacher Dr. Voell likes to say, “It’s all about relationship,” and that’s something I’ve treasured developing over the years with those who’ve attended SLS.

Unique experiences are the norm at SLS.

I’ve encountered so many unique experiences throughout my years at SLS, and each is something that has made me who I am today.

  • Diverse student body — I get to know kids from all over the world who share their foods, cultural practices, traditions, beliefs, and views of the world with me. I know a lot more than I did before getting to meet these students, and I’ve gotten to educate and influence my family and friends in positive ways because of that knowledge.

  • Single gender classrooms — I’m now a firm believer, having seen the results firsthand, in the benefit of single-sex education. Boys and girls really do learn in different ways, interact with one another differently, and have different needs. And these days I tell everyone I know how beneficial I think a single-sex education can be.

  • Faith-based education — I’ve grown more rooted in my own faith, thanks in great part to my participation in the daily prayer life at SLS. I’ve also developed my ability to explain topics in relationship to our faith, to challenge student behaviors in relationship to Christ, and to help them look at the world through a different lens than they might get from pop culture. I’m thankful that our school allows me to explore our faith within the classroom and outside of it.

  • Academic engagement — The students’ willingness to engage in academically rigorous (sometimes stigmatized) coursework is impressive. How many teenage boys do you know who are willing to get up and recite their own poetry in a competition with their classmates? There is nothing more thrilling to me as a teacher, though, to get to see students authentically engaged in coursework that might be scoffed at in other schools.

The Class of 2008, the first class that I saw through all four years at St. Lawrence, will always hold a special place in my heart, because I got to watch them grow in size, develop in faith, gain in maturity, and walk away from SLS as different people from the ones who first arrived on the Hill. Like them, the experiences I have had here have seeped into my pores and transformed who I am.

Much like the change our students undergo in their four years here, the faculty and staff are changed through their experiences on the Hill. How else do you explain that most faculty members’ longevity is best measured in decades rather than individual years? It is no accident that each of us has found our way to this Hill, and I count myself blessed to have landed here as I continue to launch.


If you are interested in sending your child to or attending boarding school, check out our Boarding School Decision Guide to learn more about the benefits and success of boarding schools.

boarding school decision guide.png

Get the Guide

This entry was posted in Faith & Formation, Boarding School Benefits on June 29, 2017 by Katie Daane