Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I have always loved the changing of the seasons. The leaves have turned, briefly covered the landscape with faded yellow, orange and red. November rain washed the colors away, leaving a barren backdrop of early winter. Soon colored strands of lights will transform the trees and line the homes of families eager for the holiday season. Our traditions formed by nostalgic memories of Christmas past will fill our senses with the magic of the season: homemade cookies, caroling, warm fires and snowflakes. Yet before we celebrate Christmas, we wait and prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus during the season of Advent.
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.
The first alumni of Holy Cross High School graduated in 1991—one year after I graduated from Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane. Nine students were in that inaugural class and were among the first students who attended Holy Cross in 1988 as freshmen and sophomores. The initial ten years of Holy Cross saw relatively small classes with committed students, faculty, and staff who forged the path for what eventually became Archbishop Murphy High School when it moved to our current campus in 1999. Holy Cross students won the first state titles for the school, designed the school crest, and helped develop the reputation for Holy Cross and AMHS as faith-filled Catholic schools with exceptional academic and co-curricular programs.
AMHS has used the Moodle platform since before my arrival in 2006. As a teacher I used Moodle during the school year and developed a hybrid online course for Washington State History I taught during the summer. The use of Moodle in a hybrid concept allowed for my summer students to maintain their busy summer schedule and still satisfy the instructional hours necessary for credit for the class. Many of our teachers who have used Moodle effectively do so with a flipped approach to instruction and organize their curriculum with Moodle as a holding space. As we shift our instruction to distance learning in this time of social distancing, we are confident our platform will allow our students to fulfill their courses this school year. I invited a few members of our school to share their thoughts about distance learning.
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?
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.