GRACE Goes International With Irish Teachers
In May 2013, merely two weeks after completing final exams, Mary Buckley, Colm Supple and Sarah Tighe, graduates from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, packed their bags and said goodbye to their friends, family and homeland as they journeyed 4,479 miles to Houston to teach.
Buckley, Supple and Tighe were three of six students awarded the Gulf Region Academy for Catholic Educators scholarship to study a master’s in education at the University of St. Thomas Houston, bringing the reach of the program to an international level.
“We thought it would be amazing to come straight from Mary Immaculate and get the experience and opportunity that GRACE offers,” Buckley said. “To be chosen and journey out here, it is almost too good to be true.”
The GRACE program is a nationally recognized Catholic teacher service corps built upon the three pillars of professional development, community and spirituality. GRACE members earn master’s degrees while serving as full-time teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. During their two-year commitment, program members live with one another in community while exploring and strengthening their own personal spirituality.
Six months into the program, the trio is beginning to come into their own as teachers as they navigate the culturally diverse classrooms.
“Believing that I am a teacher, sometimes that is the hardest thing,” Buckley said.
“After Thanksgiving I felt so much more like a teacher,” Tighe added, “as opposed to before when I felt like I was putting on a performance.”
Perhaps their best teaching moments come from their cultural exchange. Supple has taught his students the Sign of the Cross in Gaelic, which the students pray daily. From their students, the young teachers have learned the nuances of daily life in America.
For the trio, education is a vocation of service and love. Each chose teaching because of their desire to share knowledge with students. Because they are in Catholic education, along with imparting knowledge, they can also share their love for God.
“I think the Catholic education system is very holistic,” Supple said. “You are not just teaching them content, you are teaching them about God, how you should treat other people and how to live in the world and make it a better place.”