Enormous learning and growth happen during first grade when students are just six and seven years old. That transformation is what has made Shelby Christopher so excited about teaching first graders at Lourdes Academy.
“It still amazes me every year when I look back at the beginning of the year papers and compare them to the end of the year work,” says Christopher. “Students can come into the first grade as a “struggling reader,” still sounding out words like “dog,” but by the end of the year, they are fluent readers, sometimes reading chapter books!”
Lourdes Academy Family
Her personal experiences as a student sent Mrs. Christopher seeking employment at a private school versus a public school.
“I went to public school as a child, then transitioned to Father Lopez Catholic High School,” explains Christopher. “I experienced both environments, and it became clear to me that I really wanted to teach in a private school.”
Mom to VPK student and first-grade student Kayla Dever felt that same desire to send her children to Catholic school based on her experience as a student as well. In fact, her son Brock and daughter Sutton are attending Lourdes Academy – the same place Kayla when to school.
“It’s been almost 20 years since I attended Lourdes Academy,” recalls Dever. “There is still a great administration – the principal knows all the students by name. It’s the same Blue-Ribbon school I remember, but the technology is much more advanced. I love that even the younger students have access to it because it is such an important part of our society.”
Sutton Dever is in Mrs. Christopher’s first-grade class at Lourdes Academy. This is her first year at the school after being homeschooled for kindergarten because of the pandemic. Sutton’s mom reports Sutton loves Mrs. Christopher and the special attention she gets with the team.
“Both Sutton and Brock are in enrichment programs at Lourdes Academy, which means they get some extra attention from the staff because they are a little ahead in their grade academically,” said Dever. “This has been a great transition for us from homeschooling. We have been delighted with Lourdes Academy.”
The school culture and family atmosphere keep Mrs. Christopher coming back year after year as well.
“I have heard stories from other teachers at other schools, and I know what we have here is special,” said Christopher. “The sense of family can be seen and felt throughout the school. It is evident how the teachers collaborate, help one another, and ultimately want one another to succeed. We are so much more than co-workers. We are all on the same team, with the same mission – to create a safe environment where all are welcome in our family.”
More than Academics – Building Character
Lourdes Academy provides opportunities for students at every grade level to participate in acts of service. Those opportunities for younger students include collecting Thanksgiving food for the poor, donating pet food and supplies for animal shelters, and packing shoeboxes filled with small toys to send to students in third-world countries.
“Students quickly realize the joy it brings them by giving to those less fortunate,” says Christopher. “These types of teaching opportunities allow me to get beyond academics in the classroom and focus some time on teaching about caring for others. One of the things I love the most is being able to talk about God with my students!”
To book a personalized tour of Lourdes Academy, contact the school office at 386-252-0391 or email Mirtha DeWitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.