Starting a teaching career in a global pandemic

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New teachers have had to start their Saint Ignatius career in the midst of a global pandemic.

By Patrick O’Neill ‘23

Uncertainty loomed over the start this school year like no other. At the end of last school year, teachers had to radically change lesson plans and conduct classes over Zoom and adapt to online learning, causing confusion for some and headaches for others. Farewells were said between friends, teachers, coaches, and co-workers through computer screens as the year ended in a way no one could have predicted.

Farewells, however, allow for new beginnings. A significant number of legendary teachers ended their final year at Saint Ignatius to either retire from their hard work and dedication or follow a new path on their journey as an educator. As a result, newly hired teachers would begin their journey at St. Ignatius in the middle of a global pandemic.

New teachers especially had to establish themselves while experiencing another step in their teaching career. I spoke to two of our faculty’s newest additions, Theology teacher Daniel True and French teacher Elisa Bredendiek about their experiences so far during this school year.

Mr. True described how he felt during his first official weeks of teaching by stating, “I was certainly filled with nervous anticipation. But once the rhythm of the school days started, I began to feel more comfortable. There is an old adage – ‘don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good’ – meaning don’t let the fear of failure prevent a full effort – that I think a lot of teachers, myself included, are embracing right now. Another saying, from Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, has done me a lot of good: ‘trust in the slow work of God.’”

Mrs. Bredendiek was delighted at the chance to teach at Saint Ignatius. “I have been a teacher for twelve years and it has always been my dream to work here. After many applications, I was able to meet with a great interviewing team who gave me such a great vibe. I was worried about switching to another phase of my career during a pandemic, but I decided to shoot my shot and here I am.”

Both teachers expressed gratitude for how welcoming and respectful the faculty and student body have been since their arrival. Despite the challenges of starting a teaching career in the midst of a global pandemic, these teachers both seem determined to meet and exceed it.