This was one of the questions I posed to several members of our faculty in preparation for my blog series this year highlighting the vocation of teaching. You can imagine the breadth of responses due in part to our range of faculty who vary in age, gender, years of teaching experience and subject area. The question itself lies at the root of why one becomes a teacher in the first place. All of the teachers who participated in this reflection exercise could point back to a teacher who inspired them or who challenged them to think differently. This month I am sharing responses from a few of our remarkable teachers and their responses to questions including, what makes a great teacher?
Steve Schmutz joined Archbishop Murphy High School in 2006. He received a B.S. degree in Marketing and History from Santa Clara University, a Master of Initial Teaching from Gonzaga University and a post masters Principal certification from Seattle University. Prior to his arrival at AMHS in 2006, Steve taught at South Whidbey High School, Gonzaga Preparatory High School, and the International School of Aruba. He also served as the Principal at Eastside Catholic High School. While at AMHS, Steve has served as a member of the Social Studies Department, as the Dean of Students, as Principal and as President.
I credit my love of history—and my decision to become a history teacher—to two of my favorite teachers from high school: Tony Maucione and Ron Long. My three older siblings had all attended and graduated from Gonzaga Prep by the time I arrived in the Fall of 1986. My two brothers and my sister all had Mr. Maucione and Mr. Long for history classes during their time at GPrep. They were both spoken of with great reverence in my house and were true legends on the faculty. Mr. Maucione was my junior US History teacher and Mr. Long was my senior AP US History teacher--they later became my teaching colleagues during the four years I taught at GPrep from 2000 to 2004.
The first day I arrived on the campus of AMHS was in April 2006 as I interviewed for a social studies position for the 2006-2007 school year. Heath Hall was not yet constructed and the main offices were then located in Holy Cross Hall in what is now the campus ministry office. Among the first people I met in this office were Sheri Conderman, Cathy Meehan, and Mary Thompson. Over their time at Holy Cross and AMHS they have witnessed their own children pass through our hallways along with hundreds of students and cherished colleagues. Each served as a parent volunteers prior to working full time at the school. I’m honored to include their interview for our oral history project. Before you listen to the interview I thought I would offer a bit more about their background and history at the school.
I had the pleasure of visiting with Pat and Bill earlier this month and recorded our conversation in the St. Thomas Chapel. I was particularly moved by their reflections on what the mission of Catholic education is for our students. Please enjoy two of the great leaders in the history of Holy Cross and AMHS.
As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, I look forward to exploring the history of our school, from the early founders with their pioneer spirit to the early leaders of the school who harnessed this spirit and established what is today the only Catholic high school in Snohomish County. The story of Holy Cross and Archbishop Murphy High School is a story about hope, love, faith, and sacrifice. The first entry in this series features former board of trustees chair Herb Sprute and former Principal Kris Smith. They joined me in a conversation in the St. Thomas Chapel as we reminisced about their time at Holy Cross and Archbishop Murphy High School.
Simply put, Catholic education transforms lives – shaping the hearts and minds of all its students. It opens doors, knocks down barriers and unleashes our human potential. The lasting touch of this experience forms a deep foundation upon which an individual can build a wonderful life – one rooted in using her/his God-given gifts for the benefit of others as well as themselves.
The past few years I have enjoyed an annual birthday celebration of one of our good friends and long-time supporters: Roman Miller. I first met Roman in the summer of 2006 when I was a member of the football coaching staff. Roman frequented our practices, always with a bag of candy and another bag of newspaper and magazine articles. Within seconds of our first conversation, Roman had already identified a connection with my high school football coach, Don Anderson, who Roman supervised as a mentor teacher during Coach Anderson’s student teaching. Soon other connections were identified as Roman learned of my life in Spokane and on Whidbey Island. Our conversations continued on the bus rides to our away games, with Bill Arkell chiming in from time to time from the driver’s seat. Of course Roman would share his amazing life stories and as a teacher of history, I was fascinated with his connection with the Manhattan Project which included a visit to Princeton and a class from Albert Einstein. It’s nearly impossible to believe any person (other than perhaps Forrest Gump) could have encountered as much living history as Roman Miller.