This post was contributed by Dorothy Shufflebarger, teacher at Charlottesville Catholic School.
After having taught at Charlottesville Catholic School for a year and a half, I have come to realize the school is a unique and special place for students and teachers alike. Charlottesville Catholic School offers state of the art academics, spiritual growth and the administration is supportive and encouraging.
Mr. Michael Riley, principal of Charlottesville Catholic School, holds an attitude of progress and growth. He wants to make Charlottesville Catholic School the best that it can be and for the students to be successful. When asked what provides the motivation for his efforts, he remarked,
Charlottesville Catholic is blessed to have educators who continue to strive to better themselves each and every day to help our students achieve academically and spiritually. It is a joy to work in this vibrant community and I look forward to the bright future of our school.
In 2014, during my first year as a teacher, I appreciated the support and advice he gave me to differentiate my teaching. I know that I can go to Mr. Riley at any time with a question or a problem and he will help me find a solution that is best for everyone involved.
Mr. Riley’s focus is on academic success, as well as spiritual growth for the students and teachers. He encourages teachers to incorporate religion across the curriculum. Having a chapel on school grounds makes it easy for me to integrate lessons in which students can learn and pray. In the chapel, students can focus and reflect in the presence of Jesus. It is a perfect place for me to teach respect for God’s house and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
Once a month, we gather in the chapel as a class to hear stories about Jesus, the saints, and virtues from our school chaplain, Father Stephen. During Lent, I will take my students to the chapel to reflect and pray at the Stations of the Cross. This year, a parent from the school built a new tabernacle for the chapel so that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is more accessible and students can learn to love and look forward to that special time to be with Christ. Mr. Riley is supportive of faith building in any form. For example, I have initiated a faith-formation group for parents and Mr. Riley has given me suggestions, support, and encouragement to get it started.
Charlottesville Catholic School is always looking for modern technologies and methods of teaching that will support the students. This summer, a new STEM wing will be finished and I am looking forward to the opportunities it will provide. It will allow students to get out of the classroom and perform hands-on learning in a spacious area stocked with all the necessary materials. The STEM wing will provide tools for projects and equipment for experiments that we may not have room for in the classroom. I know the students need to get out of their seats and work with their hands, so the STEM center will be the perfect place to do that. The new wing will also house a new performance area where my students can perform skits or give oral presentations. The space can be used for all areas of the curriculum, including Religion and Fine Arts.
After I graduated from James Madison University with my M.A.T. in Inclusive Early Childhood Education, I looked for a school where I could implement the strategies and teaching methods I had learned. I am excited to be working at Charlottesville Catholic School and I look forward to the new opportunities that it provides for students and teachers every day.