Living Our Witness

How did you get into teaching?

My mom was an MPS teacher her whole life. My aunt and several cousins were or are school teachers. My mom and her sisters run a baton and drum corps called the Daley Debutantes. I was a member my whole life, and once I turned 15, I started teaching drum lessons. Now I am an instructor with that group as well, teaching both group and individual lessons. I was at St. Anthony School on the South Side for seven years.

What did you love about St. Anthony School?

St. Anthony on the south side of Milwaukee was a really awesome experience. I feel like it’s an incubator of teachers. They work so hard, and I’m not sure they get the praise they deserve. From the principal Teresa Reilly, who did an awesome job of listening to teachers and trying to give them what they needed, to my teammates, Kristin Kretz, Carrie Harmon, Jessica Brady Berdelle, among many others. They were awesome and they really helped me a lot by sharing resources, helping, collaborating — whether it was how to create reading lessons, knowing where to look for resources, different strategies to use in the classroom. To this day, I still ask them questions about books they might be using, etc. Everybody at St. Anthony and many other urban schools deserve a lot of credit.

How did you decide to transition to teaching at St. Eugene?

We had been parishioners at St. Eugene for a while. In the summer leading into the 2019-20 school year, we ran into another family at the zoo who mentioned some teachers were retiring. I applied, because it was our parish and it was where my daughters were going to go anyway. I’ve now been at St. Eugene for three irregular years. I could tell it was a wonderful family atmosphere from going to church and attending several open houses.

What has it been like adjusting to a new school during a pandemic?

I have been so grateful for what Principal Jones has done for the school, both as a teacher and as a parent — the tough decisions she has made with people’s health in mind. I cannot imagine a school doing a better job of keeping the kids in person as much as possible while maintaining a safe environment.

How has the pandemic transformed your teaching?

Strictly from a teaching perspective, I have tried to look at this challenge as an opportunity for growth and creativity. I also try to emphasize that mindset to my daughters and my class: be adaptable. I have some technology skills that I have been able to put to use, and (this has forced me) to be creative, first when trying to find ways when we had kids learning virtually, but now trying to streamline. It has been an interesting challenge. I don’t want to say I’ve enjoyed it, but it has stretched me in some positive ways.

What is it like teaching where your children attend school?

It’s great to see their smiling faces in the hall. It really does warm my heart. Elizabeth is in first grade, Maggie is in 4K and CC is in 3K. Sometimes, they’re not in great moods at home because they’re so tired at the end of the day because they work so hard. It’s great to see them when they’re in great moods during the day. It’s nice to really know what’s going on at the school. It’s also an extra motivator to get involved with programs that I run, Shooting Stars Basketball and Tuesday Night Slammers T-Ball.

How did your Irish band form and what do you love about performing?

Our band has been around since St. Patrick’s Day season of 2005.  (My now brother-in-law) Russell Craze and I were in the Marquette band together, and I saw that one of his interests (on Facebook) was Celtic music, so we started talking about that. He is a people person, so he knew two people who knew two more people, and suddenly we had a band. Some people moved away, so now one of his brothers is in the band, and I am beyond grateful that his sister (now my wife) Katie came to one of our shows at Irish Fest in 2010.

Irish music is so culturally based—how do you try to weave Celtic culture into your life at home?

Our oldest daughter’s birthday is March 16, and she loves the St. Patrick’s Day season. She loves green and will request Irish music on the car ride home. I’ll make sure I have potatoes and beef stew and green food coloring. In the past (before COVID), the kids would come and see the band play. The baton group has an Irish theme, as well, so there’s a little bit of Irish around the corner everywhere.