Living Our Witness

What is it like coming back to the high school you graduated from? How does it feel to take over room 352?

It’s almost surreal. It’s weird being the adult in the room when you spent so much time there as a student, but it also feels right. I’ve started new jobs teaching before, and there’s usually a learning curve of some sort. I don’t know if it’s the people around me or the confidence I have and knowing that I’m in a good place, but it was the easiest transition, even given all of the craziness.

Has the school culture remained the same since you left?

Absolutely. We just had homecoming. It was weird, and it was awesome being on the other side, being able to relive the pep rallies and the homecoming game and the dance. Just remembering all the things that we did and that I experienced. And knowing that even years later, [the culture] is still there is awesome.

You said many of your teachers, but Ms. Cissne in particular, had an impact on you. Can you tell me a little bit about her?

I’ve always loved history, and I never really knew if that was something I could pursue. I never really knew if the teaching aspect was for me.  I think seeing her teach and being in all of her classes and thinking, “I want to do that. That’s how I want to express my love of history to other people.” It is nice to repay the favor of what she and all my teachers at Thomas More did for me.

Why is AP U.S. History your favorite class?

U. S. history is my favorite. I spent many years teaching world history, and as much as I love world history, there is a lot there. I feel like you never quite get the depth of information that you do in U.S. history. I love how you get a group of kids that are just eager to learn and eager to have those discussions. You’re just able to delve so deep into these topics that are still relevant to us today and see them make those connections and have those light bulbs go off. It’s very fulfilling.

How do you incorporate Catholic faith into teaching American government and moderating the student council?

We talk about a lot of current issues that can be somewhat controversial; so making sure that any time they’re researching those topics, we are always making sure that we know and research and understand the Catholic Church’s position. We want to be able to connect our Faith and our citizenship, and they do go hand in hand.

Is there a place for faith in those discussions?

What you believe in your faith life also should be reflected in what you believe in your civic and your political life — having those conversations and being able to be willing to listen to and getting to the root of why — why we believe the way we do and trying to, you know, come to some middle ground and have them understand where the Church is coming from.

What made you decide to stay close to home for college and, eventually, your career?

I don’t know if I ever did want to stay close. I think every high school senior has big dreams, of seeing the world and going someplace new, but something always kept me coming back or just staying. I’m an only child, so I have a really close-knit family, and that’s a big part of it. Most of my close friends are from high school. I kept a really core group from Thomas More. Knowing that I wanted them in my life beyond high school, beyond college, made me want to be close to them.

Do you still think about moving to other places?

My fiance just bought a house in Bay View. There’s just something about Milwaukee and the south side of Milwaukee, that, as much as I thought I wanted to leave, I couldn’t find any place like it.

How many presidential biographies have you collected? Which one has been your favorite so far?

I am up to Ulysses S. Grant (going chronologically), so I’m about halfway. The orderly part of me has to read them in order and collect them in order, so I’m not tempted to read ahead. I think I liked the original. I think I liked my George Washington biography the best. He’s the first, he’s the precedent of the president, and (I enjoyed) being able to get a glimpse into who he was. I think it is, especially as a U.S. history teacher, absolutely fascinating.