A Message from STA's 4th Grade Teacher, Mrs. Hallinan
“Well, this is a lot better than I expected!” exclaimed fourth grader Graeme upon the start of our first reading lesson of the school year. It was August 2020, so I had a good idea what prompted his nervousness. Graeme spoke without raising his hand, but I could tell his words needed to be said, so I paused the lesson and asked Graeme to explain himself.
“What do you mean, Graeme?” I asked. His explanation made my exhausting effort to safely return to the classroom, amidst a pandemic, quite easily worth it. “Going to school during this pandemic,” he said. “It’s okay after all.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
I teach fourth grade at St. Thomas the Apostle, and I tell my students that I have the best job in Chicago. I love my job for many reasons, but two stand out to me: STA is family and nine and ten-year-olds make most days end, like it was for Graeme, better than expected.
Three years ago, I recall a phone conversation with the principal at the time, Mr. Gallo. He said, “We’re excited to welcome you into our St. Thomas family.” Frankly, I questioned the sincerity of his welcome and use of the word family, but my doubts were proven wrong when I stepped into the building. I immediately felt the sense of family at St. Thomas, as I walked into the building with Mr. Gallo and Ms. Monahan. They greeted every single student we passed by their first name. The genuine love for each child was almost tangible, and I had never seen anything like it before. The feeling of family grows with time!
Three years ago, still in my first year of teaching, I designed a bulletin board with a collection of characters (Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger) from the children’s film Inside Out. The board served as a reminder for students and myself to name our feelings and choose joy. I remember taking a selfie with the character Fear before the arrival of students on that first day to acknowledge my fears as a first year teacher. That morning, though, my fear was dispelled by the joy of my students. Learning took off that year, and I must have said in the quiet of my own thoughts: “Well, this turned out WAY better than I expected.”
This fall, teachers and students courageously enter the school building each morning because we consider one another family and things always turn out better than we expect at St. Thomas. With your help, we can continue to grow our St. Thomas family and exceed our expectations. We thank you in advance for your generous support both prayerfully and financially.
Mrs. Hallinan, STA 4th Grade Teacher