Shelly McCarthy has spent 11 of the 15 years in which she has worked as a teacher educating fourth grade students at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic School, and it suits her quite well.
“I love fourth graders because they are wonderful and so independent, but they don’t quite have the middle school attitude. It’s still cool for them to interact with their teacher,” she says.
The age of her 26 students is not the only thing that appeals to her about teaching fourth grade. She also enjoys the curriculum. This month, for example, she will teach students about regions, states and capitals, as well as lessons about rocks and minerals and daily core curriculum subjects such as reading and math.
“The curriculum is so interesting to me, and I enjoy seeing students share in that excitement,” she says.
Unlike her peers in public schools, however, McCarthy is allowed to incorporate religion in her daily lessons.
“That’s a huge part of why I am here at Saint Francis,” McCarthy says. “Being able to share my faith is important. We pray every morning as a building and before lunch. We have 30 minutes of allotted religion time and Mass on Wednesdays. During December we will have a special Advent series that starts after Christmas. There isn’t a subject that I don’t feel that I don’t incorporate my faith into it.”
Being afforded that opportunity, McCarthy notes, is just one of the many things that makes teaching at Saint Francis of Assisi so special to her.
“It’s a very safe, pleasant and positive environment. We have great kids, great parents, a great administration and a PTA that is very supportive. We are pro-active in using technology, but we utilize our faith,” she says. “We teach kids to go out and make a difference in the world.”