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A Letter From Amy Reitz
This letter is a testimony of the impact the Lewis Award had on the life Amy Reitz, a Finalist for the 2008-2009 Award, and the unexpected insight she gained from accepting her nomination and participating in the Lewis Award process. Please nominate your favorite teacher, and encourage him/her to participate. One never knows what gifts an individual may gain from the experience.
Anne Stahel, Chair
The Lewis Award
A Thank You
Dear Lewis Award Committee,
Many times in my life I have felt the presence of something special, something pulling me in one direction or another, and knowing, feeling that it would greatly impact my life and future. Words might not truly convey the heartfelt gratitude and personal awakening that I was privileged to experience as a Finalist for the 2009 Lewis Award, but I want you to know how beautiful it was for me and honored I am to have been able to experience it.
One year later, the experience continues to resonate within me, in my instruction, interactions with my students and fellow staff, the parents who trust their children to me daily, and even with my husband and three children. I started the process as a way to say thank you to the parent who nominated me, but I quickly looked at it as an opportunity to see what kind of teacher I was and what I could learn about myself and my classroom in the process. I was intrigued with the questions because they didn’t just focus on me as a teacher, but who I was as a Catholic teacher – as someone trusted to instruct God’s children. I was asked why I was in a Catholic school, and I found that question to be more personal for me than I thought.
Why was I there? I loved children and would have loved teaching anywhere, but how could I have put into words that many years ago, during the campaign to build new schools, a tug at my heart pulled me, grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I gave in. How was I going to express this in words to the committee so they understood? That question was perhaps the most difficult because it required me to really dig deep, look at myself as not just a teacher, but as a Catholic. I learned the most about myself in the question, in my answer, and I wonder if God knew that I would be faced with some difficult decisions soon; that I needed the Lewis Award to show me how important it was to be a Catholic teacher in a Catholic school.
Like many other families in today’s trying times, my husband and I find ourselves examining our situation and what we can do as parents to provide the most nurturing, safe, and loving environment for our children. Whenever we sit down to discuss our options, and the possibility of returning to public schools comes up, we both know in our hearts that is not the answer. It’s obvious what the schools have done for our children, but what they have done for me and what I was able to discover about myself through the Lewis Award process is immeasurable. There is no other place I want to be. I need the Catholic schools in my life as much as, I hope, they want and would like to have me. So when I answered that question, I put words to my thoughts and feelings, and I had to own those words. They became a part of who I am, and when something becomes a part of you, you can’t turn your back on it.
To the Committee members, thank you for devoting so much of yourself to the Lewis Award – your time and talent – that allows teachers to find and rediscover who they are and why they are in a Catholic school. The Lewis Award provides an amazing opportunity to any teacher lucky enough to be nominated and I pray that at some point, every teacher has a chance to learn more about themselves and come through the process confident and committed to why they are there. The Lewis Award did that for me. I know who I am, and I have come to realize what is most important, what I need in my life to fulfill God’s plan for me and my family.
With an extremely grateful heart, I say thank you!
St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School
Second Grade Teacher
"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19