During the 2016-2017 school year, students and staff at LaSalle learned more about The Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher written by a French priest named John Baptist de La Salle in 1706. It was de La Salle’s intention that the ‘Twelve Virtues’ be used by his teachers in their work with students. A pioneer in training lay teachers, de La Salle dedicated much of his life to educating poor children in France assisted by the Institute of Christian Brothers that he created.
Canonized in 1900, St. La Salle wished for his teachers to temper any anger, increase understanding and help each other to assist their students in behaving in ways positive to their growth. His life and inspirational writings moved Pope Pius XII to proclaim him the patron saint of teachers.
Today, the ‘Twelve Virtues’ are used by teachers to develop course curriculums. During the 2016-2017 academic and continuing into the summer, LaSalle teachers and staff from Martin de Porres Group Home (MDP) collaborate to introduce a virtue each month.
Most often inconspicuous, literally everything happening on LaSalle’s campus is tied to St. LaSalle’s Twelve Virtues. Once a month, all staff receive an email from MDP’s Brother Ray Blixt, FSC writes about what that month’s virtue means to him including suggestions for how best to communicate it to youth in modern terms.
For example, in May the chosen virtue was ‘Zeal.’ In Brother Ray’s message to staff he explained the virtue of Zeal this way: “When we have a passion and love for what we do then we are fired with Zeal which manifests itself in constructive creativity, positive energy and always being there to go the extra mile for others.”
LaSalle Albany teachers create bulletin boards with words and images related to the virtue of the month. Those very same instructors implement the virtue in their daily lesson plans, projects and field trips.
The virtue of Generosity was in evidence at the tie dying exercise during Founder’s Week benefiting LaSalle’s twinning school in Kenya.
In their Wisdom, our teachers and board members made it their mission to have our youth and student senators learn about how laws are made in New York State (NYS) by having youth meet members of the NYS Legislature and the NYS Board of Regents as well as attend formal meetings where important education initiatives were being discussed.
Last summer, Regent’s Chancellor Betty Rosa visited LaSalle’s campus and a few weeks ago a LaSalle contingent including students, staff and board members attended an April meeting of the Regents held at their SED location.
The Zeal with which our adult moderators joined together to bring off these events made everyone at LaSalle proud of how youth responded to these opportunities. Recalling the April meeting, Trustee Carmen Perez-Hogan said “the students were so professional and respectful with everyone they met. I was so proud of them and our entire delegation!” That day, the students made the rounds meeting Chancellor Rosa, Vice Chancellor Andrew Brown, Regent Lester Young, Regent Kathleen Cashin and Regent Luis Reyes.
The virtues don’t begin and end with use in the education program! Underlying all student involvement and engagement you will find one or more of the Twelve Virtues as the basis. For four consecutive years, Residential managers and staff have found the key to successful residential youth field days (most recently held on June 26th) is to be prudent in their selection of activities for those of our boys who prefer contact sports and activities as outlets for their enthusiasm and quieter, more reflective games for others.
When ending his messages to staff on the ‘Twelve Virtues,’ Brother Ray invites staff to reflect on a number of questions as a way of doing a personal inventory to measure our capacity for the virtue of the month. On Zeal, he asked ‘do we come to our work place filled with energy and enthusiasm which inspires and influences our colleagues who share the same mission? Do we find a way to remain hopeful, positive and trusting even when faced with very difficult circumstances, events and challenges? Do we find a way to remind ourselves of the virtues we need to possess and practice in order to effectively influence the youth entrusted to us?
The continued guidance of St. La Salle’s Twelve Virtues will ensure that the work of teachers will remain strong providing more and more layers of learning opportunities for LaSalle Albany youth.