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Faculty and Staff Feature - Paige Crowley

●      Can you tell me a little bit about your educational journey?  What brought you here?

I was baptized shortly after I was born at Our Lady of Fatima  in 1968.  I have been Catholic before I can ever remember.  I belong to a large Catholic family in our community and I am part of our tradition of recognizing the importance of a catholic faith-based education.  I attended Queen of the Miraculous Medal in first grade through sixth grade.  I continued my journey at Jackson Catholic Middle School in 7th and 8th grade and graduated from  Lumen Christi High School in 1986.

I graduated from Western Michigan University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fashion Merchandising.  I later attended Spring Arbor University as a Post-B.A. student and received my teaching certificate in 2001.  I earned a Masters of Education at Spring Arbor University in 2005.

I taught in the public school system for roughly 18 years and resigned after being burned out and depleted.  That is when an opportunity in the Jackson Catholic school system opened up for me. 

●      What are some of the challenges facing public schools and students, from your perspective?     

There are great kids who want to learn and talented teachers in the public school system. However,  there are very serious complex problems facing our public schools that will take a long time and creativity to correct.   The most severe problem is the mental health crisis of our youth.  Students are coming to school with a break-down in the family structure, adults in their lives who have issues with addiction,  and a lack of faith in their lives.

I have purposely taught in an at-risk environment for the majority of my teaching .  I felt the experience was truly God’s work. However, students in the at-risk environments are in survival mode.  Their lives are filled with trauma.    Students are coming to school typically with a  one-parent household or a grandparent acting as parent.  There is a strong trend of mothers being absent in their child’s lives,   poverty, poor nutrition, homelessness, and neglect are very real challenges in our  public schools systems today.  Therefore, learning becomes a problem because basic needs are not being met.

The best thing we can do as a Catholic community is get involved with the youth in Jackson.  We  need to act and be an advocate for these children in our at-risk communities through mentorship programs.    We need to pray to God the Father for an answer to the strife our youth in Jackson faces and not to be complacent because the crisis does not affect our lives. 

●      What makes Catholic education so important?

Catholic means universal and Catholic education is an education model for everyone.  Catholic education is so important because the Holy Trinity is the center of learning.  The goal of Catholic education is to help children develop into Christ-like people.  It is the gold standard of formation for centuries.  It is about raising students to have eyes to see and ears to hear the presence of the Creator in the truth, goodness, and beauty in the world around them.

●      What makes St. Mary Star of the Sea so special?

The visible and the invisible.  The beauty of our campus, buildings, and church.  The tangible or what can be felt and that is the presence of God’s love for us.  It comes from the top and disseminates down to the students.  Our priests, Fr. Tim and Fr. Tyler  teach our students to feel the love and presence of God all around, the visible and invisible.   The students at St. Mary’s also teach us adults to see the beauty of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.   Our parish priests visit  our students every Tuesday at morning prayer to connect, teach,  and be a part of the parish family.  St. Mary’s students and staff meeting every day at 8:15 a.m. to pray together, read from the Gospel and pray for intentions for others.   Our principal, Miss O’Neill uses lunch hour with students to discuss daily morning prayer, scripture, and reflections.  Our day is intentionally spent on classical academic rigor,  teaching virtues,  and living a life in order to become a saint. 

●      Have you seen your faith change or grow as a part of the St. Mary’s community ?

Without a doubt.  My faith has always been an important factor in my life.  Even when I taught in the public school system some of the staff would meet before school to pray.  My faith has grown even more so at St. Mary Star of the Sea.    Last year I followed the catechism in a year podcast  to learn about the beauty of the Catholic faith and grow closer to God.  I became a Euharistic Minister for all-school masses and I joined the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer group.  I can say learning about my faith and praying for others made me stronger in my faith journey.

I know that I want to spend the rest of my life serving St. Mary Star of the Sea in some capacity.   I’m not sure how that will look, but  I look forward to my days after teaching at St. Mary’s to attend daily mass, possibly being a lecture at daily mass, or doing whatever it takes to make sure St. Mary Star of the Sea thrives in the goodness, beauty, and truth of our Catholic faith.  I have learned that my life does not really belong to me, it belongs to God’s will and not my own will.

What would you say to teachers considering a jump from the public to Catholic school system?

The first piece of advice I would give is to go to church, kneel before the crucifix and pray on it. Get a feel for the school.  Ask a principal to walk with you through the building and observe a classroom.  Talk to the parish priests. Visit the Diocese of Lansing website and look at our curriculum on- line.   Each school in our Catholic community is one, but each building has a different feel.  It will not take long for you to see the difference between the mindset and mission of a Catholic school versus the government mandate of a public school.  If you are given an opportunity to do God’s will, embrace it.



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