Serving “living images of Jesus” at Resurrection
By Kevin O'Brien
St. John the Baptist De La Salle once said that “your students are living images of Jesus.” This has always been an inspiration for me as an educator, as it reminds me that there is good in every student, and that every student is capable of not only learning, but finding the path God is calling them to in their respective lives. For some students, that path may come easily or quickly. For others, it may be more challenging or may need more adjustments or help from teachers or staff.
I have learned the importance of truly getting to know students and families in my 11 years in Catholic education, which has spanned not only from grades K-12, but across the country as well. Whether it was on the East Side of San Jose, California, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, or right here in Kansas City, Kansas, it has always been a priority for me to learn and understand our students and families cultures and communities in order to be of better service to them, and more importantly, their children.
In this process, not only have I become a better teacher for my students, but I also have been able to learn how Christ lives and thrives in these respective communities, which has formed me not just as an educator, but as a person as well. This has been especially true recently, as I am not only a teacher in Kansas City, Kansas at Bishop Ward, but am a parishioner at St. Mary’s-St. Anthony’s Church, and have been a recent resident in Strawberry Hill. That would have not been possible had I not been inspired by the Wyandotte County community I have served as an educator.
In my brief time getting to know the Resurrection community thus far, it is obvious that as a school, this community truly views students as “living images of Jesus.” One of the core values of Resurrection is “embracing diverse tradition” and the community of Resurrection not only values our families’ cultural backgrounds in the educational process, but also embraces the diversity of learning styles and interests of our students.
At Resurrection, there are plenty of options and opportunities for students to grow their academic interests in order to help them build 21st-century skills which will help prepare them for not only high school, college, and their respective careers, but also heaven as well. Yes, Resurrection has incredible teachers intent on growing their students’ learning in the core subjects, multiple support teachers and structures that can help students of all learning levels, and a robust STREAM program that will only get stronger with the addition of a new STREAM Lab that will be completed this Summer. That being said, everything at Resurrection is driven by the Catholic faith and mission, which at the end of the day, is to help student not only be excellent students, but strong and mindful people who will be “men and women for others'' when they become adults, which is what Christ calls us to do in the Gospels.
As I begin the transition process as principal, it is important to remember, as St. John the Baptist De La Salle emphasized that we at Resurrection are “in the holy presence of God”. And furthermore, in God’s presence, it is also important that we as a community recognize God in everyone that walks through our doors, whether they are students, family members, faculty members, or even guests. Resurrection has always been an inclusive and welcoming community that meets every student and family member with open arms, and that will continue to be a priority in my service as principal. On Pentecost, Christ gifted the disciples the ability to speak different languages in order to grow the faith and reach a greater number of people. God did not call the disciples to speak only one language or serve only one community. That is our mission as well at Resurrection: to reach greater numbers of families in the Wyandotte County community, in order to give their children the robust and individually-focused Catholic education they deserve.
At Resurrection, we only become stronger as a school and faith community in the diversity of our members. Not only does that diversity strengthen our students in their learning, and our teachers in their crafts, but it also helps foster our faith as an entire community, as it shows that we are all connected by the Grace of God and mission of our Church.
I look forward to seeing our community at Resurrection continue to grow in the future, and for this school to truly be a place where students can comfortably be “living images of Jesus” on a daily basis.
About the Author
Kevin O'Brien will begin his new position as Resurrection Catholic School principal beginning July 1, 2021. He comes to Resurrection having most recently taught at Bishop Ward High School.