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Educators’ Journeys to Catholic School

Across the diocese, there are hundreds of talented educators working to prepare students for the world of tomorrow, drawing upon timeless resources and their own extraordinary backgrounds.

Each brings their own expertise, witness and deep pedagogical knowledge to bear, creating dynamic classrooms and thoughtful interactions that support students as they embark on their individual paths to sainthood.

After being received into the Catholic Church in 2020, Jozie Pinkowski’s faith formation brought her into a deeper relationship with God. When she graduated from Michigan State University a year later with a degree in elementary education, she was called to help form others.

“After spending my student teaching in a public school and spending a lot of my time during my undergrad in these public schools, it really showed me the importance of Catholic school and allowing ourselves to provide students with the immersion of the Catholic faith,” says Pinkowski.

This year, Pinkowski was overjoyed to begin work as the new math, religion and social studies teacher for fifth graders at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School in East Lansing.

And she’s not alone in her joy.

Down the road, at St. Thomas the Apostle in Ann Arbor, Monica Raney feels the same way. She came to the school from South Africa, where she was homeschooled and taught to value classical education.

“Classical education and the investigation and integration with the Catholic faith very naturally grew within my home environment,” Monica says. “Going to a very secular university, however … I felt the extreme poverty of that. There was so much lacking in the understanding of the human person.”

After marrying an American and coming to the U.S., Monica found a home at St. Thomas the Apostle.

“My love for classical education and for journeying with students just combined into a feeling of, ‘This is where I belong,’” Monica says.

She sees many benefits to Catholic education for Michigan children and youth.

“There’s this full understanding of the human person in Catholic schools,” Monica says. “Instead of ticking all these boxes and coming out the other side as a productive adult, it’s like you are formed as an individual — as someone who brings all these gifts, not just to the people they interact with, but to the entire world.”

It’s a feeling shared by Sister Anthony Marie Bautista OP, the new middle school math and science teacher at Church of the Resurrection in Lansing. Sister Anthony Marie is also the new homeroom teacher for the sixth grade.

“Something I wanted to do very early on in my life is to share the joy of the Gospel,” she says. “In all subjects, like science and math, you see the beauty of God. What’s wonderful is that, in these subjects, they don’t cancel him out, they just make him shine more brightly.”

Today, Sister Anthony Marie believes the most important thing about being a teacher is showing love and compassion to her students. Because of who she is — and what she wears — people can see the light of Christ shining through her.

And it opens doors.

“I get to have these beautiful encounters, where children come up to me and ask me to pray for them,” she says. “Wearing this habit, people see Christ first and me second, and that’s what I want.”

Together, these and hundreds of other teachers are working to make a difference. To listen.

And most of all, to love.