Fall Faculty Days honor educators in diocesan Catholic schools


The annual Fall Faculty Days sponsored by the diocesan Catholic Schools Office were held on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 in Immaculate Conception Catholic School, Jackson, and Springfield Catholic High School respectively. These days of renewal and fellowship for all faculty, educators, and principals in diocesan Catholic schools are also an opportunity to acknowledge various levels of service awards among the educators.

Guest speakers included Kevin FitzGerald, diocesan attorney; Bill Holtmeyer, diocesan Director of Child and Youth Protection, and Leslie Anne Eidson, diocesan Director of Communications, Media, and Publications, all of whom spoke to best practices, policies, and procedures in the school setting that foster safe environments for youth and adults. Topics included the diocesan Code of Conduct and Guidelines for Use of Technology, Email, and Social Media; mandatory reporting and the challenges educators and students face in relation to bullying, cyber abuse, and cell phone behavior.

Distinguished Teachers

The Diocese also recognized the 2017 Distinguished Teachers during the Fall Faculty Days. Nominated by their peers, these individuals were chosen for their embodiment of what it means to be an effective Catholic teacher as well as their dedication to Catholic education, their parish, and community. As Bishop Rice told the faculties at the opening of the academic year: “I don’t just hire ‘teachers,’ I hire evangelizers, disciples of the Faith.”

On Oct. 19 at Immaculate Conception School in Jackson, Pat Moore of St. Denis Catholic School in Benton, MO, was awarded a Distinguished Teacher because of her participation in planning the liturgies at school, serving as a Eucharistic Minister and lector, connecting these roles and her duties at the school. Moore was nominated primarily for how she engages her students on the beliefs and traditions of the Catholic faith because she lives them. She is a vital 53-year-member of her parish community and active in the 4-H society. She helps plan the parish meals and takes a lead in programming for the Parish School of Religion (PSR), Vacation Bible School, and projects in the St. Ann’s Sodality.

Leah Speakes is the middle school science professor and homeroom eighth grade teacher at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, Springfield. Speaks was honored on Oct. 20 as a Distinguished Teacher for her dedication to her parish as a Eucharistic Minister, involvement in the Altar Society, and for her work with the food bank and school service projects. Her philosophy is to “Teach as Jesus Did.” She works with organizations that are near-and-dear to her heart such as Catholic Charities’ LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home, Rare Breed, and the Ronald McDonald House. She is a member of National Science Teachers Association and the Missouri Science Teachers Association. She also works with the Science Olympiad organization at both local and state level.

“Both of these women are true examples of our Catholic Faith,” said Leon Witt, diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Debra Owensby serves the diocesan Catholic Schools Office as administrative assistant.

The Diocese has 23 Catholic elementary and secondary schools, and three Catholic high schools.

The Fall Faculty Days are partially underwritten by the annual Diocesan Development Fund (DDF).

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