Long-time educators loved giving their all to students

Again this year, the Clarion Herald invited Catholic elementary and high schools  to submit the names of teachers with at least 25 years of service who retired at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Here are a few of their pearls of wisdom:

Archbishop Rummel High School

Deborah Kettenring Lobrano

Schools: Archbishop Rummel High School (1989-2019) and Academy of the Holy Angels (1973-1989).

How many years have you been teaching? 46 (16 years at the Academy of Holy Angels and 30 years at Archbishop Rummel).

What grades(s), subject(s) have you taught? High school grades 8-12.  Research and library skills as school librarian and American History, Civics/American History, world history and geography in the classroom.

Briefly describe your funniest or most memorable experience as a teacher:

In the late 1980s, I brought a class of my Holy Angels civics students to visit the U.S. Eastern District Court on Poydras Street in New Orleans. Our visit ended at the same time as the trial of Gov. Edwin Edwards recessed for lunch.

While waiting for our bus, Gov. Edwards approached my students and asked them to join him for lunch at Fuddrucker’s, a hamburger restaurant that he owned. Before I could finish explaining that we could not go to lunch because the girls had promised to return to school in time for their calculus class, Gov. Edwards – like the Pied Piper – was leading the girls down Poydras Street.

A photograph of this unauthorized and unlikely procession appeared on the front page of The Times-Picayune the next day and was widely circulated through the Associated press. U.S. Attorney John Volz was furious that guests of his courts were now hobnobbing with his most famous federal indictee.

 Needless to say, our annual invitation to the federal courts was revoked.

What’s special about teaching in a Catholic school?

Teaching in a Catholic school has allowed me to live out my faith and the Gospels each day with colleagues who have the same invested goals.  As a Lasallian teacher, my ultimate goal has been to help our students attain eternal salvation and realize God’s loving mercy.  I do not think that I could have taught and counseled students all of these years without talking about God, faith and moral lessons.

What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession?

Teaching involves building trusting relationships. Get to know your students and don’t be afraid of them getting to know you as a teacher. This can be tricky because it is important for both the teacher and students not to cross the lines.

 

Cheryl Mire

How many years have you been teaching? 51

What grades(s), subject(s) have you taught? Mostly English 11th and 12th, but also eighth-grade mathematics and 10th-grade social studies

Briefly describe your funniest or most memorable experience as a teacher: 

My first year teaching, I was giving a group of eighth-graders a test. I had a favorite in the class, a very charming boy who struggled in school and was very anxious to please his parents, both of whom were professionals.

As I walked up and down through the rows of students, I put my hand on his shoulder.  He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and handed me his “cheat sheet.” 

I gave him a new blank copy of the test and told him to try again. After class, I remember taking him aside and telling him, “Your own best effort will always be good enough.”

What’s special about teaching in a Catholic school? 

People really care about one another on a deeper level. Family events like illnesses or the death of a parent are shared by the whole community. I am an only child, and the school became my family.

What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession? 

Don’t give up on teaching until you have tried it for at least five years.  Don’t let the lack of money be the reason you leave the profession.

 


Brother Martin High School

Eileen Brocato

School: Brother Martin High School

How many years teaching?
40 years.

What grades(s), subject(s) have you taught?
Health and P.E., grades 9-12 at Holy Angels; one year math at John Ehret; two years sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade math and science at St. Charles Borromeo; three years of sixth-, seventh- and eighth grade math at St. Lawrence the Martyr; 13 years Algebra at Mount Carmel Academy; and 17 years of  Algebra at Brother Martin High.

What’s special about teaching in a Catholic school?
You become part of a family and you feel the love from your co-workers. You get support from faculty and students in the face of a personal tragedy. You can have dear friends even after

you leave and go to another school.  You feel safe from the outside world in a Catholic school, and you do not have to fear the students at all.
What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession?
You have to love what you are doing and the feeling you get from seeing a child improve. You will learn about patience and forgiveness.

 


Jesuit High School

Mat Grau Jr.

School: Jesuit High School

How many years have you been teaching? 47 years in Catholic education: Sts. Peter & Paul elementary school (1972-75), Jesuit High School (1975-2019)

What grades(s), subject(s) have you taught? English to all grade levels including English V-AP; my favorite was teaching poetry to 16-year-old young men. As an administrator: enhancing student life, the important formation that goes on outside the classroom. As alumni director: forming structures and events to keep alumni connected to each other and to their alma mater.

Briefly describe your funniest or most memorable experience as a teacher.

Breaking down the wall of a classroom and having the students experience the subject matter rather than just hearing about it: 1. Having a thousand adolescent males riveted on every word of poet Dana Gioia (a visiting author I brought in a 2005), asking him intelligent questions, and giving him a standing ovation. 2. Commemorating and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the integration of Jesuit High School and actually the integration of the schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Having Jesuit’s students hear from those who experienced it firsthand. 

What’s special about teaching in a Catholic school?

Being an agent of God’s love in the lives of our students. 

What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession?

Once in the classroom, blow up the podium. Get out there among the students. Use all your creativity to engage your students. Be human. Tell them stories about your formation and the formation of others. Insist on respect, for themselves and for others.

 


Mount Carmel Academy

Gloria Doran

School: Mount Carmel Academy since 1976

How many years have you been teaching? 43

What grades(s), subject(s) have you taught?

I began my career teaching Algebra I, U.S. history and civics. For the past 35 years, I have taught United States History, including the Advanced Placement course. I have also been the moderator of the Carmelette Dance team for 43 years. For most of my career at Mount Carmel, I have taught juniors, but the dance team consisted of 60 girls ranging from ninth to 12th grade.

Briefly describe your funniest or most memorable experience as a teacher.

My most memorable experience at Mount Carmel was the year that several Carmelettes were invited to perform in Rome, Italy. While in Rome, I was invited to attend a Mass at Vatican City with Pope John Paul II. I was honored when I was asked to meet the pope with one of the high school students. The pope spoke to me for about three minutes, and I had the opportunity to kiss his ring and receive his blessing. I don’t ever recall being more nervous, yet extremely excited when this special privilege was awarded to me.

What’s special about teaching in a Catholic school?

Teaching in a Catholic school has helped me to grow spiritually. Mount Carmel Academy has helped me to share in the mission of the Catholic Church as I share my knowledge of spreading the good news of Jesus. Mount Carmel has allowed me to not only develop my love for God, but to instill a love of God in all of the students.

What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession?

The advice that I would give to new teachers is to love, nurture and properly discipline your students. Teachers should promote positive behavior patterns, manage classes fairly and firmly and learn to be a team player to the other members in their department. As stated in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

 


St. Charles Catholic

Angie Louque

School: St. Charles Catholic High School

How many years have you been teaching? 22 years

What grades and subjects have you taught? Library (library skills)

Describe your funniest or most memorable experience.

My most memorable experience was a Carnival ball moment with Suzy Bologna and Glenn Tregre.

We were trying to make a bench look like a trunk covered with world maps. When we finished, we tried it out over a bench outside. Glenn and I sat on it, and it was fine, but when we added Suzy, I wound up falling off because we had made the trunk longer than the bench. We laughed for months after about that. I could write a book about all of our Carnival ball moments. It would be a comedy.

What is special about teaching at a Catholic School?

It is one, big happy family.

What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession?

Hang in there, the rewards are two-fold.

 

Andrew Cupit

School: St. Charles Catholic

How many years have you been principal? 30 years at SCC as principal and 20 years prior teaching math and serving in administration in St. John Public Schools for a total of 50 years.

What grades/subjects have you taught? Prior to administration, I taught math in grades for 8-12. I have taught every math class from eighth- grade math to senior calculus.

Describe your funniest or most memorable experience.

My most memorable experience is not one experience, but the joy of coming to work every day. It has never felt like a job.

What is special about teaching in a Catholic school?

Being able to practice my faith and profession at the same time and place.

 What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession?

Understand that a teacher’s role is to be of service to students and parents. That the keys to success are what I call the “6 Ps” – practice, preparation, perseverance, patience, passion and prayer.

 


Ursuline Academy

Karen Mortillaro

School: Ursuline Academy

How many years have you been teaching?  26 years

What grades(s), subject(s) have you taught?

I have been the dean of students for the past 10 years. For all of my 26 years, I have taught Advanced Placement U.S. History. I have taught all high school grades from 8-12 over the years. Other subjects I have taught in the history department over the years  have included Western Civilizations, law studies, world geography, world cultures and American history. I taught Old Testament and social justice in the theology department when I first started teaching.

Briefly describe your funniest or most memorable experience as a teacher.

I have had many wonderful memories in the classroom. The thing that I love the most is when a student tells me that they are now talking to their parents about what we discussed in class or are inspired to find out about current events because they have enjoyed the class so much!

The most memorable situation was last year when my class was talking about what was going on in the news and referred to a conversation we had in class about it. When I told them I couldn’t remember what we had said, they realized they had not talked about it in a previous class, they had talked about it at lunch the day before! My students, voluntarily, discussed current events at lunch! I was so proud!

What’s special about teaching in a Catholic school?

I have many friends who teach in public schools all over the country. There is nothing that compares to being able to include my faith and God in any situation that may arise. As a Catholic school educator, you can be an example to them in so many ways that young adults need today.

What brief advice would you give rookie teachers or those considering the profession?

The best advice I was ever given by one of my professors back in college was, “If you don’t have a plan for them, they will have a plan for you!” I have told that to many new teachers over the years and often remind myself of that reality.

I would also tell them to get to know their students. Go to their games, choir concerts, drama productions, etc. The more you know their interests and who they are as people, the more you can relate to their needs and serve them as individuals.

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