When many teachers decide to pursue a career in education, many say they have a desire to help mold students into successful individuals. At Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School, Spanish teacher Lauren Jones is no exception. Jones has succeeded in that aspiration and has become a favorite among the student body in the process. In a heavily decorated room, Jones creates inventive lesson plans that not only submerge students into the subject, but also allows them to have fun in the process.
“Spanish is the only language we offer and not everyone wants to take Spanish,” said Jones, “I don’t want students to be miserable, so I try to make it fun.”
In addition to class work, Jones has been very active on the spiritual side of Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School. She allows prayer to play a heavy role in her relationship with students and, in five of the six years she has been at Stritch, she has gone with the senior class to Kairos. Kairos, which means “Lord’s time,” is a Christian experience of prayer and reflection, run by a team of adults and students.
With the heavy spiritual commitment Kairos requires, Jones considers her volunteer work at Kairos to be some of the most powerful spiritual moments in her life.
“It has just meant so much to me to share that with the students because it’s just an awesome experience,” said Jones. “I love to see them go in thinking that they know what is going to happen but even when they think they know, how it impacts them is so different. And seeing how it impacts one student versus another is just so awesome. It’s one of the most emotionally draining experiences, but it is so worth it.”
But as influential as Jones has been to the students, she recently learned how much her students and fellow staff members are willing to help her during times of need.
Jones and many others at Stritch Catholic were eagerly awaiting the arrival of her first child, a daughter, last November. But when Jones went into labor, something unknown happened and her child was born without a pulse. Shortly after the delivery, Jones called Angie Campbell, an English teacher at Stritch Catholic, and shared the devastating news. An assembly was held before the end of the school day to pray for Jones and her baby. This is when Jones received a spiritual lifeline from the family at Stritch Catholic.
“Ms. Campbell recorded the assembly on her iPad, and just to see how Fr. Eric presented it to the students and how respectful the students were, I could tell that they cared about the situation not just because they knew me, but because how much my baby meant to them,” she said. “Fr. Eric told me it was like their (the students’) own brother or sister to them because I had let them into that part of my life.”
But with the loss of her daughter, Jones saw just how big of an impact a tragedy in her life has on others.
“It wasn’t until (my daughter) passed away that I realized just how much she impacted them,” said Jones. “I appreciate knowing and being able to talk about it. Students still ask me about, and feel very strongly about the situation. What they have taken from it is unbelievable.”
(Story courtesy of St. Kateri Catholic Schools. Reprinted with permission from the 2012-13 St. Kateri Annual Report)
Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School Spanish teacher Lauren Jones (Photo by Photo Works, Inc.)