Chapter 10 – Religion vs. Science

I have often been asked how I can teach science in a religious school setting.  I have also been asked by a few people if I teach evolution in a Catholic School.  The answer is that I  simply teach science and I actually have more freedom to talk with students about every aspect of science in a Catholic school.  This amazes most people who ask.

In a public school you really do not have the freedom to bring up or to discuss any religious aspect of any subject because you have students of almost every religious denomination.  When teaching in public schools I have had Catholics, Lutherans, Mormons, Baptists, Methodists, Muslims, and Jews. I have also taught students that do not either attend a church or may not even have an affiliation with any religion.  You teach science in a public school and you stay with the scientific facts.

When I began teaching in the Catholic School setting I was amazed when I realized the freedom of what I could add to my science teaching.  It is so nice to realize that the students themselves wanted to and would ask religious questions during science class.  Do I have all of their answers?  Of course not, but it is still so refreshing to be able to just discuss and to hear the different takes on religion in relation to science.

One question that is often asked by parents when they are thinking about putting their children into a Catholic school is whether evolution is taught in science.  I myself  do not teach evolution as an individual class or section but we do talk about evolution when the theory is brought to attention whether in books or in adding to the background of how this Earth has developed and changed from the beginning of time.

In college when I was taking all of my credits that were needed for my Biology degree, I had to take an Evolutionary Biology class.  I walked in to class the first day with no idea of who was going to be the professor.  I went to a state university that has no affiliation with any particular religion.  We were all in our seats in wait of the professor and in walks a priest to teach Evolutionary Biology.  You could have heard a pin drop in that class of maybe 200 students.  The wheels of our minds were processing what we were seeing and thinking.  Everyone in class, while taken aback, listened as the professor introduced himself and then he immediately answered what we were all thinking.  How was a priest going to teach us about evolution?  He answered our unvocalized question with this response, “If God created everything then how could he have not created evolution?”  We all thought about this for a second and then went on to our first lecture and the expectations of the class.  I do not remember anyone ever in that class bringing up the professor’s belief in his statement or that evolution cannot be proven.  We were given the facts and theories of evolution and we were left to believe what we could take out of what was taught.

Since I have begun to teach in the Catholic schools I have also asked two of the three priests that I have worked with about their feelings of evolution being included in the science discussion.  I have relayed what my professor stated and believed and both priests totally agree and have told me that explaining evolution like that is perfect.

I teach Life Science to 7th grade students and this is the science in which the evolution talk usually gets the most attention.  It is also talked about a bit when I teach Astronomy and Earth Science but lets talk Life Science first.

We start Life Science by learning about cell structure and then we move on to DNA.  We throw in genetics and then we finally get to learn about the Animal Kingdom.  We start with the Phylum Porifera, the Sponges, which are the lowest animals in the multicellular animal groups.  We move on to the coral and the starfish and we keep moving onto and learning about the phylums of animals as they naturally get more advanced in their anatomical structure.  If you ever want to be amazed, take a class on Animal classification, throw in a class about fossils and you tell me that evolution has not taken place on this Earth.  Explain and show the connections of the animal’s anatomical and knowledge accomplishments to eleven and twelve year olds and they are dumbfounded by the connections and progression of how animals evolve through the phylums.  They see these connections between animals and they now can question the theory of evolution.

Do I tell them that evolution and everything that is written is exactly correct?  No, of course I don’t.    I want them to think for themselves and I want them to have the ability to take this information and if it interests them then they can learn more about it on their own.  Every year a student will ask about religion and evolution and I tell them my college story.  They also stop to think about that and usually agree, yep, if God created everything, then why not the science of evolution?

In 6th grade I teach Earth Science and we look at the Geologic timeline.  We then focus on the part of the timeline that contains the dinosaurs.  We learn that no fossil remains of people have ever been found to coincide with dinosaurs so man was not existent on Earth when these giant animals ruled the Earth.  I ask them that no evidence has been found but I give them the loop hole that maybe no one simply has found the evidence of man at this time.  Maybe their bones were too small to fossilize because of the conditions on Earth at that time in the Earth’s history?   Hey I am not a archeologist so I tell them that sometimes in science and in the teachings of the Bible itself, stories are written and because there were no cameras or recording devises we may never know the true story of how man came to be and at what time he and she where put on this Earth.

I also teach Astronomy to 6th grade.  This has to be the hardest science to teach at the middle school level.  We do not have telescopes, we cannot take field trips to space, and some of the material is so beyond my comprehension of how astronomers have calculated astronomical information that I simply tell the student’s that some of the space information is out of this world to me!  We look at each planet and then I scare them a little when I can show them the size of Earth compared to the rest of the Milky Way Galaxy using my handy Ipad application which allows me to zoom in to Earth and then to zoom out into our galaxy.  We are a mere pinpoint in a sea of stars surrounding our sun.

We focus on Mars and what we can look at online from all of the pictures that have been taken from all of the rovers that NASA has sent to the red planet.  I tell them that maybe humans started living on Mars and then the water supply was lost and we then had to move on to Earth.  Maybe WE are the Martians.  I bring this up only to get them to start wondering about what is out there in that vast universe.  Are we the only beings that have been created by a higher being?  I just like to get them to think.  I explain that I do not mean to scare them, and believe me they tell me not to, but I want them to realize that we still do not have all of the scientific and even religious questions answered.  Will we ever?  As an adult I still have questions when I start thinking about everything that is out there in that gigantic universe that we live in.

I like to have fun in class with the students.  Learning is always a lot more entertaining and comfortable when you have a class that is enjoying and truly thinking about what is being taught to them.  I sometimes will get into a mode while teaching where I ask the students if God makes mistakes like all of us?  The kids will think about it and usually they will say that they think that God is perfect and does not make mistakes.  I then tell them my rendition of the mistakes that God has made.  I tell them that he created the Earth and he first put all the land structures as one floating landmass in a gigantic sea, he left them like that for a while and then decided to move these land pieces and position them as continents.  He next put gigantic beasts and plants on this Earth and then decided that a smaller sized life form would be better.  He sent an asteroid down to Earth and started all over with smaller animal and plant sizing.  He made man and women and positioned them on Earth until he saw that they were not listening to his teachings so he sent a giant flood to wipe those beings away and he once again started over.  So God has made mistakes, he corrects his works and moves on to designing the Earth that he desires.  People always ask why God allows tornadoes, volcanoes, tidal waves, wars, and so on in this world?  Maybe he has made the weather to test our knowledge of how to live through such weather, maybe he has allowed some men to start wars so the rest of us can battle through such times to allow our goodness to win through such tragedy.  We as humans make mistakes, maybe God wants us to know that even he works to better his intentions and creations here on Earth.  I have these thoughts and we talk about them in class.  I know and tell the students that I have made up this theory but who is to say who on this Earth is correct or if we will ever know how God wants us to evolve in his world that he has created for all of us?

I love teaching science with the freedom to add religious bits to enhance all of the scientific facts that middle school students are intended to learn.  There is one rule that I do not allow though in respect to religious addition to the science curriculum.  When taking a test in any of my science classes, they are not allowed to answer, “because God made it” to any question that they are answering!  They can convince me of an answer if they describe and prove their answer with facts that we have discussed in class but God is not always the answer when you are answering questions for a science test.  Yes, God is the answer to most things, but he is not the answer when I ask how many planets are terrestrial and how do they know this?  There is always one student that fills in the answer that is unknown to them with because God said so or with because God made everything but it still gets a check mark through it!  So sorry!:)IMG_2928





Chapter 9 – Two is always better than one.

Everything that I write in here is true.  I may embellish things a little to make you laugh or to make you think, but deep down everything that I have observed or experienced is true.

That being said, you now have to hear and experience a happening that of course I was part of, again.  People sometimes tell ask me, ” How do all of these things happen to you?”  I tell them, “I have no idea, but I’m glad that they have.  It makes my life exciting.”

First off this occurrence happened  when I was in my second year of teaching at St. Mary’s in League City.  To also get a better background of who takes part in this story I will need to explain about my principal at that time.

Principal M as we will call her, had only been a principal for one semester when I started teaching at St. Mary’s.  She allowed the teachers to teach with their own flair but some of her administrative habits as I will call them were a bit odd.  When you are a principal you really cannot expect to be friends with your teachers because like it or not you are their boss.  You should have teacher meetings that contain important items that will enhance the school environment.  You shouldn’t have meetings that include an explanation on how we will be voting on the day of choice for that year’s Christmas room parties by telling the teachers who are listening directions to move to the left side of the room if you vote for Thursday or move to the right side of the room if you vote for Friday.  Of course it was me who moved first.  I thought that the explanation was over and believe me it was, I was listening so I preceded to move to the left side of the room.  As I moved to the Thursday side and half way there the principal yelled, “Where are you going?  Sit your butt down!”.  No this really happened in a teacher meeting.  I went back, she explained once more about the move and vote procedure, I stayed put thinking that I would now wait for another teacher to take the lead.  Steve the history teacher moved to the Thursday side and he too was told to go back.  Yes, laughter then could not be held back and she then decided to take a vote by hand.  What was that all about anyway?  We teachers had a good laugh about that meeting for weeks.

So to a fault I will admit that I laugh at almost everything.  There was the time in high school when I got kicked out of the library after being told by a friend that her obese cat had fallen off of their TV the previous night.  I wasn’t laughing with my friends that hard about the cat fall but when the librarian came over ask us what we were laughing too loudly about none of us could talk.  We just laughed louder.  Well the laughing just got worse and laughing tears started and my library card was taken away.

There was a time in high school when our choir director was yelling at all of us because we were not performing to his liking.  He was yelling, others were seriously listening and my shoulders were shaking and were almost giving my laughter away.  I never could take teachers yelling at me seriously.

There was another time at an 8th grade “graduation” ceremony of one of my classes in which I was sitting in the second row of pews, sitting front and center of the priest and families and bad off key singing set my friend and I off into a reoccurring laugh fest that caused me to have to throw every piece of clothing into the hamper when i got home because of it being wet from laugh sweat.  If you have never been able to stop laughing in a situation in which you know you shouldn’t continue to laugh it is terrible.  Funny, but terrible.

So we now need to get back to understanding the setting of being a teacher under Principal M and my laugh being tortured by her actions and thoughts about teaching.  Believe me when I say that I could write an entire book about this.

There is one occurrence that happened with Principal M that I now need to relate to you.

It was the spring semester and we were just a couple of weeks away from Spring Break.  I was called into the principal’s office for a reason that I cannot remember but I know that it wasn’t of any great misgiving on my teaching or working attitude.  The principal asked me about ideas on some said subject and that was that.  No problem so let’s go home.  It was the end of the school day and everyone had gone home except for the principal and I.  I do remember adding that she looked tired and that Spring Break was right around the corner.  Well I should not have been so caring in saying that because that was when she got up, shut her office door, sat back down and told me quietly that something was bothering her and she wanted to tell me about it.

Oh no! Oh no, no, no.  I need to go home I thought to myself.  But she started with this statement, “I’m going to tell you something but no one can know about it other than you, me and the secretary.”  I grabbed on to the armrests of the chair in which I was sitting and said, “Oh, OK.  Go ahead.”

She goes on to say, “You see the diocese wants me to interview this certain person for the math position in middle school but I do not want to do it but if I don’t then I could legally be in trouble.”

The wheels in my head are now turning.  Who could this person be?  Principal M was always using the legal word at teacher’s meetings so I was used to thinking I was working under the FBI, but why didn’t she want to interview them?

I then asked, “Well who is this person?”  In my head I’m thinking that its either some sort of celebrity who now wants to teach or its a convict!  I’m sorry but who else could it be?  Either way I was fine with it because I was going to make a new friend who was going to be in some way interesting.  This does not happen often in teaching.  I was about to hit the teacher friend jackpot!

After asking who this person was maybe two or three times, hey I needed to know, so quit the suspense she finally said, “You do not understand.  I do not think that the kids could learn correctly from this person.  I just don’t think that I can allow them to work here.”

By this time I have it set in my head that it is definitely some sort of celebrity/athlete that is going to teach next to me and we may even end up having a reality teaching show!

I get back to my reality and she says this statement with a very long pause in between some words, “You don’t understand, this person………..(this is the long pause)……………..has two heads.  Come here, let me show you.”

I paused and let that sink in and then I went around her desk and she showed me a picture online of Brittany and Abby the conjoined twins.

Honestly, I looked at her and said, “Oh I’ve seen them before.  Interview them, do they know math?”

She then tells me that she is afraid that the students could not handle their situation!  What?!

I told her, “Kids are the best at looking at people for who they are.  Yes, they would have a lot of questions but kids adapt to anything.  I think that its fascinating and you should interview them.  God made them this way, why shouldn’t you interview them?”

I left that office , got into my car for my forty minute drive home I wanted to scream that I was going to teach with the most interesting teacher(s) ever!

Remember I was sworn to secrecy but that did not mean that I couldn’t convey what I had just heard to someone in Ohio!  That day of all days, no one was answering their phones.  Please Lord, let me be able to spread the good news that I’m going to teach beside Brittany and Abby.

For about three long weeks I had to live with this secret.  During that entire time I also kept thinking, this is stupid, why is this a secret?

One evening I then received a phone call from my teaching friend Margaret and she asked me in a kind of code if I had heard what she had heard?  Now Margaret was a good friend so I said, “You tell me first and then I will tell you if we have the same story.”  Yes, Margaret heard the secret news also.

Everyday from then on at lunch we would “secretly” talk about our possible new teacher friends and better yet we would wonder if we were the only two that knew or if everyone else was also being tested.  Honestly, we maybe thought that it was a test to see if any teacher would cave in.  It was like we were being tested once again to be FBI agents at a Catholic school.

Weeks passed and it was killing us on whether they had interviewed Brittany and Abby for the math position.  Usually when a new teacher is being looked at we all see them at some point being given the tour of the school and they are introduced to teachers.  Did Margaret and I see this happening?  Nope, and believe me we were two teachers who paid attention to every activity in school.

About two months after all of this waiting we kind of gave up.   We thought maybe Brittany and Abby had decided that they did not want to move to Texas from Minnesota.  At the end of the school year we did break down to see if any other teachers knew about Brittany and Abby.  By their responses, Margaret and I really did believe that only we were told about this potential interview.

So summer began and Margaret calls me and tells me to turn on TLC.  Brittany and Abby did have a show on this station called – Abby and Brittany!  OK so I turned it on and the episode that was on was called, Spring Break, Here We Come.  This episode follows the girls to Texas for their Spring Break trip and it includes them getting ready to interview for a teaching job!  Well guess who they interviewed with?  Yes, St. Mary’s Catholic School.  The episode does not show the interview itself, although Margaret and I secretly wished it had shown you know who interviewing or introducing herself to them but being the sleuths that we are and with the help of our DVR pause buttons, they do show the girl’s writing a thank you to St. Mary’s Catholic School for the interview.  But wait, we never saw them in our school!

This broke our hearts.  When teachers are interviewed it is done at the school in which they will be teaching.  Why didn’t the diocese interview them like all of the rest of us teachers?  To this day I feel bad about how excited they were on that episode about their interview.  Watch it and now that you know this story you will feel the same way.

I would have loved to have taught with Brittany and Abby.  I have seen that they are successfully teaching back in Minnesota so good for them but better yet applause for the school who saw them for what they are; just two girls who wanted to use their college education to help others to learn.

I think that it is very sad that a school and a principal did not see these two girls as a regular interview for a math position.  Worse, I think it is just terrible that they hid these girls from touring our school and interacting with other teachers who would be teaching with them.  No other teacher was ever interviewed this way.  Once again Brittany and Abby I apologize on behalf of the teachers who wanted to meet both of you and were denied this.  The kids at St. Mary’s would have been proud to have you as teachers.

I will tell them this though, do not feel too bad.  When it was time for me to leave St. Mary’s because attendance was getting low, I was told by Principal M that I should start looking for a new teaching job as I was coming out of the teacher’s bathroom.  Yes, that happened.  So see Brittany and Abby , you really dodged a bullet.  Things do happen for a reason.  I also believe in that.

I have read up about Brittany and Abby and you can do so too.  They are conjoined dicephalus twins.  The chance of this happening is 1 in 40,000.  From this number there is a 1% chance of survival.   Brittany and Abby are a Living Miracle.  A religious school should have seen this without these numbers and they should have been hired.  They are amazing.  They drive, they play sports, they have different likes and dislikes.  Look them up and learn about their extraordinary life and their loving family.  Go do it now!





Chapter 8 – School is Fun(ny)!

I teach science.  Science words are to some middle school students a new language.  It always makes me laugh when I’m talking along in the classroom and the kids are writing the notes down or are hypnotically staring over my head when I say a word that may make them come to life.

Here is a list of those potential word alarms:  Hermaphrodite, sexual reproduction, Area 51, flagella, anus, and schist.

Now some of these words just make the kids giggle.  I love when I look out into the classroom and catch someone who cannot keep the laughter in.  Middle school kids think that certain words are funny.  To this day my own kids who are now 22 and 24 can crack up or at least they cannot keep a smile back when I say these 4 words to them, poo poo pee pee.  When they were little and in a bad mood I would always tell them that I could make them laugh and all I had to do was say those four words and they instantly came to life and the smiles came out.  These words do the same thing in the classroom.  Why?  I do not know but its always better to see someone smile.  Try it!

When I teach I like happiness in my classroom.  I always tell the students that things are funny so laugh about it.  I cannot tell you how many people tell me that I am a funny person.  Maybe I am but I do find humor in about everything.

I laugh when people fall, I laugh when people have funny mannerisms, I laugh at good and bad jokes, I have caught myself even laughing in church.  Laughing in a place where you are not supposed to laugh is the worst of all.  I seem to laugh even more then.  You cannot think bad of me because of this and you know why?  You cannot because God made me this way!

So now let’s go back to the laugh making science words.

Hermaphrodite –  When we start the Animal Kingdom section in 7th grade Life Science we start with the Phylum Porifera, the Sponges.  When I first mention the word hermaphrodite some think that it’s Aphrodite’s relative.  No really, some do!  I go on to explain that it means that the sponge is both male and female.  The kids then want to next talk about Sponge Bob.  That’s OK because now I know that I have their attention and I can now ruin their childhood.  We discuss why they think that a sponge has to be both male and female.  I then ask who does watch Sponge Bob.  Hands will go up in the air and then I tell them that Sponge Bob sometimes has female traits right?  Quietness will hit and then they get it.  Sponge Bob is a sponge and because the creators know that and they have learned their biology they have made him theatrically correct!  Kids get it now and they understand the word hermaphrodite.

Sexual Reproduction – Once we start talking about the sponges I settle them down and tell them that we now have to learn about the sexual reproduction of the sponge.  I tell them that we have to watch a video showing this and after saying this I have had kids that turn red from embarrassment.  Once I describe it and we also get past the words sperm and egg they are seasoned veterans in understanding the reproductive aspect of most animals.  They can even talk about most of it without cracking a smile.  Well maybe that does take a couple more sayings to stop the giggles.

Area 51 –  When I teach Astronomy in 6th grade I tell the kids that there is so much out there in the universe that we live in that we do not know half of its secrets.  Try explaining to an eleven year old how the astronomers know all that they do and how do they do it to prove it all exists.  We talk about all of the planets and how I will never go to Mars until there are proper bathrooms on that planet and on that two year flight.  We then talk about Area 51 and I explain to them that it is located in Nevada.  We watch a video on the great You Tube channel and they are in disbelief why no one is allowed there.  Why do I show them this?  I show them to help them to understand that there are mysteries here on Earth still as well as in outer space. Then I tell them, bye, have fun on Mars, I am staying here!  I scare them just a little and then I make them laugh.  It balances out the emotions very well.

Anus – Just like the word sperm, we all have to learn that anus is the technical word we now will use to anatomically describe the body part that releases waste in all animals.  Laughter abounds with this word.  They laugh until they learn that some animals, like the jellyfish, use their mouth as their anus.  The laughter stops, the wheels in their brains start turning and then the laughter may return or a gag reflux may be seen.  Nervous laughter is also laughter.  It happens.

Schist – This is simply a metamorphic rock.  It once was shale, pressure on this shale transforms this sedimentary rock into schist.  The problem with this rock is it’s name.  Say it the first time in front of the class and all heads pop up thinking that you, the Catholic Science Teacher just said the word sh_t!  So then I have to repeat the pronunciation again and I have to spell it out in front of them, S-C-H-I-S-T!  Schist!  Schist I did it again!  If you ever get to see a real piece of schist it is beautiful, its very sparkly and its just a pretty rock, you may even say that it is one nice piece of schist.

This rock leads us to the best schist story.  The kids that I teach are also funny.  I love that!!

So we were learning about rocks and minerals in the 6th grade at St. Mary’s.  I do it in a way where I get all of the rock and mineral specimens out, they then have to draw each rock or mineral and they have to describe every detail about that specimen.  They need to tell me its hardness, if it has a streak, does it have a smell, and some they even can lick.  You haven’t lived until you have licked a rock!

So we were on day two of our rock identification lab and the kids were talking and working and every time that someone would get to the schist I would hear bits of laughter.  Finally I told them that if they used the word schist correctly that was fine, even in pun form, but once they were out of my room and if another teacher heard them use it in an ugly manner well just do not use me as their excuse.  Think before you talk.

So the talk keeps going and finally I say to the class, “I cannot believe that no one has taught you anything about all of the rocks out there before me.”  From the center of the room comes the response from quick thinking Daniel, ” Mrs. LaBolt, they haven’t taught us Schist!”  I responded, “Used correctly, you get one point!”  See rocks are funny too!

Next we go to clean up and after everything is put back another student walks up to me and I notice that his side pant pockets are bulging full.  I ask, “Kieran, what is in your pockets?”.  Kieran replies, “Oh, I have a pocket full of Schist!”.  Once again, schist used correctly.

School is fun.  To this day I do not understand teachers who frown upon having laughter in their classroom.

I think God wants us to be happy everywhere, even in school.fullsizeoutput_16ab

Chapter 7 – Angels and Spirits, or maybe Ghosts?

I have never believed in ghosts.  I only watch scary movies with all of the lights on and I absolutely hate haunted houses.

I do like to watch Ghost Hunters on TV and I do believe that there are people out there who can see “dead people”.

My entire lookout on the paranormal all changed when I began teaching at St. Mary’s Catholic School in League City, Texas.

St. Mary’s Catholic School is located south of Houston, Texas just thirty miles north of the Gulf of Mexico.

I was called in to teach at St. Mary’s in the middle of the school year.  Luckily just before the students returned to school during Christmas Break, I was allowed to enter the school to prepare my classroom.  My daughter, who was a senior in high school at the time went with me to help.

Let me tell you this to begin.  My classroom at St. Mary’s was and still is to this day the best learning space for a middle school science teacher EVER.  Why?  First, it was located in the school’s attic.  This should have sent off an alarm but really it was spacious, there was no carpeting so that itself was great for the students to work and write on the floor with no hinderance for classroom projects.  Secondly, my room, get this, had its own room with a sink and a toilet.  Yes , I had my own bathroom.  Better yet, the students already knew that this bathroom was not to be used by them unless my throw up run rule came into play.  The room also had a storage room for the science supplies and an additional room behind my white board that ran the entire length of the room for school storage mainly of school uniforms.  Two more rooms came off of this storage room for furnace and water heater needs for the school.  I had windows that looked out into the street so we had plenty of sunlight and the stairs up to my room were carpeted so that when the students came or left it did not sound like an army was entering or exiting.  My 2nd floor science room at St. Mary’s was the best that a middle school science teacher could ask for.

So my daughter and I began setting up my new classroom.  The secretary that let us in had left and we were all alone.  Right now as I write this and if this was a movie this is where the people in the audience are thinking and maybe yelling, “Leave Now!”.

As we worked at putting together the bulletin boards my daughter told me that she did not like this room and that St. Mary’s was haunted.  To this day I remember her stating this to me in a very serious manner.  I also remember my reply of “It is not haunted Madison.  This is a Catholic School.  If anything, there are angels here with us.”

We finished what we needed to do and then we went downstairs to leave.  As we got to the first floor I told Madison that I would show her the rest of the school.  The problem with this was that only the security lights were illuminating the long windowless hallway that lead to the front office.  Madison did not want to walk down that hallway but we did. We went down towards the hallway that went past the school library which when looking inside was completely dark.  We looked into it and then decided to exit the school.  I would take her to see the school in its entirety at another time when the lights were on!

Looking back on this exit, I will tell you that I had an odd feeling of being watched and decided that we could skip the tour and leave.  I know that I was probably just being paranoid about what Madison had said about her feelings of the school being haunted.

I will tell you, the reader, this right now:  Whenever I was alone in my science classroom and especially if I was using my personal bathroom I had always heard sounds coming from the science supply room area.  I cannot tell you how many times that I would think that a teacher had ventured up to my room while I was using the bathroom and I would hurry to wash my hands in order to be able to catch and help or talk to the teacher who was probably searching for a science related tool in the supply room.  Two or three times I remember walking into that supply room and calling out that I was coming only to realize that no one was there.  I always thought that I was losing it or just hearing things when this happened.  It often happened.

About two months into teaching at St. Mary’s is when the Schist Hits the Fan.  (This is a geology pun if you are wondering.  I will explain this in Chapter 8.)

The students at St. Mary’s did not go directly into their classrooms when they arrived for school in the morning.  Students were dropped off or were escorted into the gymnasium/social hall/cafeteria which is disconnected from the main school.  All teachers also meet there and after the Pledge of Allegiance, daily prayers, and that day’s messages are relayed, the entire school population then moves on to the main school and to the student’s classrooms.

So one morning I was in my classroom bathroom and as I was washing my hands I heard a high pitched voice say, “Is anyone here?”.  I heard it as clear as day.  It sounded like a young girl, younger than a middle school aged girl, but it was a voice of a girl.  I finished up quickly and opened the bathroom door to see if a kid had snuck up to my room.  No one was there and then I thought to myself, wait, I did not hear anyone going down the stairs!  Believe me, no kid of any age can quietly go down stairs no matter if those stairs are carpeted or not!

I had a funny feeling and I ran, no I sprinted down and out of the school into the gymnasium where everyone was meeting for school to begin.  I went up to a few teachers and one asked me if everything was OK.  I must have had a weird look on my face.  I asked her if any kids were allowed or had asked to go into the main school that morning.  She asked why and I told her that I had just heard a little girl’s voice in my science room.  All three teachers standing there looked at each other and then the one teacher suggested that I talk to our religion teacher.  “Why?”, I asked.  They said, “Just go, she will tell you what you need to know.”  My answer in my head about this was the repeated phrase of OMG, OMG, OMG,OMG!!!!

I walked up to the religion teacher and quietly told her the same story of what I had heard that morning.  She told me to stay after the students were dismissed to class.  She had to tell me something. Once again, OMG, OMG,OMG, OMG!

The students left and she calmly told me that there were three people that “lived” up in my classroom.  One was an older man who they believed was a farmer named John.  Yes, ghosts have names!  There was an old lady who they could not pinpoint as to who she was and there was a little girl who “lived” in the bathroom.  She told me this with no problem in regarding that I probably did hear what I thought that I had heard!

So now I knew.  St. Mary’s was a haunted school and the main location of sightings and happenings were in my room.  Yay!

Now I am a believer in the paranormal but was every teacher in that school a believer?  Nope!  Once that they knew that I knew the school’s secret the teachers that believed and had experiences with the ghosts told me their stories.  Here are some of these stories:

Kelley:  The PE teacher had been upstairs many times and she said that John would make sounds for her when asked by her.  Her husband thought that she was crazy until one day he went upstairs with her.  Kelley calmly asked John to make a sound for her.  Oh, by the way she first said Hi to John and then introduced him to her husband.  She wanted John to know who he was and how he was related to her.  Her husband then heard an undisclosed sound that couldn’t be explained to be caused by anything else in that room, he then ran out and down and would never venture up there again.  Kelley is a believer!

Amy:  The PreK teacher was at St. Mary’s when they had a ghost hunter come in to check that status of St. Mary’s hauntings.  She told me that the ghost hunter had a divining rod that they use.  She said that it was just like the type that people used to detect water that would bend downward to locate that water.  She says that she watched that stick bend straight down towards the floor when the ghost hunter asked for the ghost to show proof of itself.  These “ghost locators” are the ones that received the ghost’s name as John.  They also determined the little girl’s presence but they could not get the old lady to work with them.  Amy also tells a story of preschoolers who would use the student bathroom directly under my room on the first floor of the school.  One day a little girl was told to go into one stall.  The little girl opened the stall door and came back to the teacher.  The teacher then asked her why she didn’t go in?  The little girl said, “because there is an old lady in there.”  The teacher kind of laughed and told her to go on in.  Meanwhile another little girl was listening to this conversation and walked over to the stall and looked in.  This little girl stated, “Its OK now, the old lady is gone.”  Remember how my daughter told me that the school was haunted?  I truly believe that younger kids feel, see, and know these paranormal happenings unlike us adults.  Children are believers; Amy is a believer!

Kim:  The school secretary told me of times when clocks would fly off of walls and of the time that the Xerox machine that used to be in the science room would spit out papers on its own.  Kim is a believer!

Lisa:  Now Lisa is another story.  Lisa is the most outgoing personality of anyone that I have ever worked with.  Lisa would listen to all of our ghost stories and happenings and would insist that we were just hearing things because our imaginations were working full throttle.  I told her to come upstairs to investigate.  She would laugh when I told her that I now said Good Morning to “my” ghost friends when I arrived each morning and that I told them that I would be back tomorrow or to have a good weekend if it was Friday.  I always told them also that I would be back.  I told her that I never believed in ghosts but that after all that I had heard and felt and had seen that I now believed.

One day Lisa did come up to investigate for herself.  She walked around the room and went into the bathroom.  Nothing.  I told her of the times that I had heard people in  the supply room.  She insisted that she was going in with no lights and I was to shut the door.  I would not do it.  She did it on her own while I stood outside in the classroom.  Nothing.  Then she asked me about the room behind the white board.  I told her, “Oh no, I do not go into there.  Its too scary!”.  She laughed at me and suggested that we go look.  I remember that we both left our cell phones on the desks outside of this room when I said that I would follow her in.  I was not going to lead.  We went into the left room that contains the furnace for the school.  We could not find a light in there so I went out to get on of our phones for a light source.  I took it in and Lisa looked around.  Nothing.  We closed that door and then went to look into the room on the far right side.  The door opened easily and Lisa said, “There is nothing in this room.  It feels different than that other room.”.   By the way I am behind her this entire time.  I’ll admit it, I was still spooked in this part of my room.  Don’t ask my why, I just always knew not to go into that section of rooms.  So as we came out of the second room we were about to go back into the main science room when I told Lisa, “Look, there is now a light on in that left heater room!”.   Remember, there was no light source that we could find when we went in there previously.  Lisa went to that door and she could not open it.  She looked at me and in a determined stance she opened it.  A light had been turned on!!  Lisa slammed that door shut and ran out into the main science room.  “OK, I believe now!”  Lisa never returned upstairs to visit.  Lisa, first not a believer, now a believer!

Nilda:  Our new Spanish teacher was working on her room on a summer day before the new school year began.  Just like when I was fixing my room when I first began teaching at St. Mary’s, once again only the safety lights were illuminating the external hallways.  Nilda said that she was walking down the hallway to leave out of the front and an older lady in a billowing skirt was walking and was heading towards the side exit door.  Nilda said that she knew it wasn’t a nun, remember nuns are missing in Catholic schools these days!  She said the older lady looked like an older farm lady.  She kept walking to where she could look at the side exit door and no one was there and better yet she never heard the door open or close.  Nilda had no idea at this time about the school’s ghosts just like me.  We told her all that we knew after she told us about her sighting.  Nilda is a believer!

I taught at St. Mary’s for two years.  During those two years I experienced many little feelings and witnessed and heard enough to make me a believer of ghosts, spirits, or whatever you want to call them.  Was I afraid to teach up there in the day?  No. Never. Remember I got to the point where I talked to my ghost friends to let them know that I knew that they existed.  They were letting me use their space.  We had an agreement!

Now going into that room at night was another experience.  I was never there often after dark but if I was at school after the sun set I was never in my room, I was downstairs for meetings or for the middle school “haunted” sleepover, I mean retreat!

Once a year I was told that the middle school students stayed overnight for our religious retreat and I was told that teachers also stayed.  I never said anything to the students about my ghost beliefs although some did relate stories that they had heard.  At these times when I heard them talking about the “little girl in the bathroom”, I would tell them that it was not true.  Yes I lied to students in a Catholic School setting!  I had to keep the calm of my environment people!

So once I was told about this overnight retreat what do you think I did?  Yes, I lied again!  I told my fellow middle school teachers that I could stay until 11 pm but then I had to leave because I had an appointment the next morning very early and because I lived forty minutes from St. Mary’s I could not stay the night.

Thank You Lord for allowing me to work with believers of Truth because they said that they understood and that it was fine if I left before the bewitching hour!  There was no way that I was going to sleep in that haunted school.

Just recently Kelley, Alex, and I, the middle school teachers met with the students who were now off to college that we had the first year that I taught at St. Mary’s when they were in the 8th grade.  We played kickball outside with them and then we all went inside with them and knowing that they were now at an age of maturity, Kelley and I started reminiscing about the ghosts of St. Mary’s.  All of the students ears perked up and told us to stop making up stories.  We told them that this was the truth.   They were appalled that we never told them.  I then told them, “Why do you think that I never spent the night at the retreats?!”  Those students are now believers.

So all of these stories had to do with the school but here is the best story of all.  This story about St. Mary’s “ghosts” truly made me a believer.

St. Mary’s had a priest that was the head priest for quite a long time.  For close to twenty years, Father Cargill was in charge with all of the St. Mary Church and School detail.  He passed away a few years before I attended anything at St. Mary’s but I was told this following story.  You may also become a believer.

Father Cargill was a priest that loved the Catholic Church and he also loved the school that helped to further the teaching of the Catholic religion to students at St. Marys.  After his death, St. Marys renamed the gymnasium/social hall to Cargill Hall.

Now I have already told you that when it comes to spirits and ghosts we have believers and we have nonbelievers.  The superintendent of the Catholic Diocese was an Irish born nun, yes a nun, that when told about our other occupants at St. Mary’s did not believe.  I can maybe understand her not believing in our three ghosts of the science room but I cannot believe that she did not believe in the following “spirit” sighting at St. Marys.

After Father Cargill passed away, another priest was assigned residency at St. Marys.  His name was Father Howard.  Father Howard is a younger priest and he believes.  He had told Sister Kivina that he often saw the spirit of Father Cargill on the altar with him during masses at St. Marys.

I believe this because I have been told the story of the day’s happenings when Father Cargill’s funeral was held at St. Marys.  The teachers who had taught under Father Cargill were allowed to leave school to attend his funeral.  The remaining teachers would look after the students for this time.  I was told that is was a perfectly beautiful sunny day until the funeral began.  As the funeral mass began, clouds appeared and rain began and a rush of wind blew through the church.  In the school at the same hour in which the funeral was taking place the school lights flickered and the power went off for that hour.  When the funeral mass ended and Father Cargill’s casket was taken outside, the blue skies reappeared and all was well.

Father Cargill was in residence at St. Mary’s for a long time and I truly believe that he wanted the St. Mary’s faithful to know that he was and still will be with them at mass.  When you hear this story, do you believe?  I do.  Sister Kivina still could not be persuaded about this sighting and happening.  I guess she needed to experience it to believe.  I did experience some of the happenings so I believe.  I understand her resistance.

So if you look up the definitions of a ghost, a spirit, and an angel this is what you will find:

A ghost is an apparition of a dead person that is believed to appear or become manifested to the living typically as a nebulous image.

A spirit is simply the synonym of the word ghost.

An angel is a spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God, conventionally represented in human form with wings and a long robe.

After looking at these definitions I believe that the three in the science room are ghosts, Father Cargill’s apparition is a spirit, and my guardian angel did not show itself but was always and is at my side.

I’m glad that John and the two other ghosts made my teaching experience at St. Marys a little more exciting but I’m OK with moving on and leaving them alone in their attic room.  Just so you know, that attic room is no longer used as a classroom anymore and the ghosts do not appear like they once did.  Maybe they just wanted their own room.  I can understand that!!  I can because I believe.

The pictures that I have posted were taken by me.  When I first had to go with just the stories that people shared with me I had the need to prove to myself that these entities did exist.  I wanted proof to show others.  I would sit at my desk and I would take pictures.  Some pictures would just be of an empty middle school science room but as I kept taking pictures at different times I ended up having a collection of proof on my phone.

Some pictures you see have orbs in them.  The best pictures of proof are the ones that show the “good” ghost showings versus the “bad” ghost showings that I felt were always in the bathroom, the supply room, and in the three rooms behind the white board.  You will notice that pictures taken out at the room towards the steps contain either the orbs or white ghostlike figures coming out of the ceiling lights.  If I pointed my camera behind me or at the bathroom there were always black configurations.  Look at the pictures that I have downloaded here and you can make up your mind in what you see.  You will either believe or you won’t.

Look at the picture of me standing in the room at night on one of the last days of school.  I did not want to go up there.  Some teachers made me go up with them.  We all waited together for something to show up or to make a sound.  Nothing happened.  The nonbelievers left and two of us remained.  All of a sudden I felt a cold temperature difference by my ankles and I told Amy, a believer, to hurry up and take a picture.  Look closely at my feet.  Do you see the spot of light to the left of my feet?  There was no light in there and no one had a flash light or any other source of light. You see it, I know that you do.

Yep, you are now a believer.




Chapter 6 – Where have all the nuns gone?

I never attended a Catholic school, I was always a public school student.  I remember when I was entering kindergarten that my parents thought about sending me to Catholic grade school.  I had cousins that were attending St. Joan of Arc Catholic School but it was decided that I would attend Genoa Elementary and would become a Skipper instead of a St. Joan of Arc Dragon.  Just so you realize, Genoa was by no body of water and the real St. Joan of Arc never fought real dragons.

So I entered public school but because I went there I had to go to CCD.  What does CCD stand for?  Well I will tell you, well let’s see, well I really do not know.  It probably stands for Catholic ……….I honestly do not know!  The best that in Texas it is called CCE.  I still call it CCD in Texas and people just look at me.

I had to look CCD up and it stands for, get this, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.  We now know why they told us kids that we were attending just plain old CCD.  I wouldn’t have went with a code name like that.  Oh this gets better, I had to look up what CCE means and it stands for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Call me crazy but shouldn’t that then be CCC? , or C cubed?  or Triple C?.  I guess the first one sounds mighty Spanish , the second is too mathematical and the third sounds like the ranch where Marty from the Mouseketeers used to go to camp.  The definition then goes on to tell you that CCE is from the Latin name, Catechismus Catholicae Ecciesiae.  Ok, lets stick with CCE or for me CCD.

So we went to CCD on get this, Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m.  Now who thinks that kids AND parents would want to get up on a Saturday morning to go to “school”?  That’s not even the worst part of this journey.  The worst part was that I had to miss all of the Saturday cartoons that were shown on this day of the week.  I’m going to take a wild stab at who thought of this scheduling for us.  Catholic school goers, that’s who.  We were being punished by someone who already learned religion in the Catholic school that they chose to attend,  had no kids, was never a kid and who did not enjoy Scooby Doo or the award winning Land of the Lost.  Darn that Sleezak of a person.

We went on Saturdays for about 4-5 years and then the best idea in the world occurred.  The diocese gave an added choice of going on Wednesday evenings.  This is one of the first Christmas miracles that I have been part of and witnessed.  Thank you to whoever made that decision.  I was now free on Saturday mornings to see if Will and Holly ever made it back from the past.  Spoiler Alert:  Will and Holly never made it back!  Although now that I think it through, I did not see them in the remake with Will Ferrell so maybe they did return to the present time.  I also have to thank this person for choosing a TV evening that was not important enough to hinder my religious educational paying attention.  I watched Eight is Enough but I could miss episodes and not be despondent.

I went to CCD and I was there to learn all about my Catholic religion.  I honestly cannot recall one iota of information that I obtained at these classes.  In second grade you prepare for your first communion so I’m sure that I learned what that entailed because I still go to communion to this day and I get to receive every time.  That hand change rule took a few good years but all of us Catholics took the challenge and received instead from our tongues to our right hand under our left hand that will lightly grab the host to transport it to our own tongues.  Don’t you love being able to tell stories of how things used to be and when they changed you were there?  It has to be the same feeling as when that first light bulb went on.  Think about that, I am correct.  I must have learned all of the prayers to be able to go to confession when I was in the 4th grade.  OK, I’m truly confessing this, I always read the prayer from the card that is in the confessional.  I’m confessing again, let me change that to the card that used to be in the confessional.  I now go to the communal confession mass and love it.  Hey it is nerve racking in that little confessional room as it is.  I had to come up with sins AND memorize prayers when I was made to go to confession.  Confess yourself, you all did the same.

I remember being dropped off at CCD and thinking that it was only an hour and a half.  I can do this.  The time passed quickly and they would give us homework in our workbooks that we all did five minutes before we came back the next week.  Sometimes they took us in the church and we got to go “behind the scenes”.  Sometimes we had a substitute that had no idea what to do with us.  Heads Up Seven UP time!

CCD was not a problem until we would hear the steps of a single person walking towards our room.  We would all quiet down to listen to where those steps were leading. All of us would really start praying in our heads, “Please Lord, do not let those steps lead into St. Joan of Arc Dragon room 4B. Amen.”  If the steps passed us by we knew that our prayers were heard and answered.  If those steps stopped at our door entrance we knew someone in class was not praying correctly.

The steps that we feared hearing was from St. Joan of Arc’s resident nun, Sister Eleanor.  She would be dressed all in black.  Black top, black skirt, black stockings, black Earth Shoes, and her black habit.  There was a stripe of white at her habit’s edge around her head and she had a white collar like a priest but that was where the “color” ended.  To me she was about 60 years old, stood about 6 feet tall, had a look of nonlaughter at all times and she scared the &$#@ out of me.  (We will get to Catholic school language in another chapter.)

Whenever Sister Eleanor walked into our CCD room I would quietly thank the Lord that I went to public school and did not have to face the wrath of Sister Eleanor on a daily basis.  No one moved when she would enter the room.  Even the CCD teacher would hardly move or talk.  We were all angels at this moment of entrance into our room.  We knew that she was going to ask what we were learning about and we all knew that none of us would have to answer because we had Amanda H. to rely on.  Thank you Jesus for putting Amanda in my CCD class every year so that I had the answerer in my class to respond to Sister Eleanors questions that were like Catholic religion questions from the Notre Dame book of questioning.  Amanda would shoot her hand up for each question and the rest of us Catholic savants would sit there and look at Sister Eleanor in a way that made her always call on Amanda.  Her hand was stretched to heaven in a way that would be a sin not to call on this eager holy child that knew the answers.

I’m sure that if I could go back in time that I would see Sister Eleanor differently.  I’m sure that she was a lovely servant of the Lord.  Actually when they invent time machines I’m going back in time to see the 1700’s but I’m sure that I would see my CCD days in a different light so I’m going to just know this and travel to other interesting times.  CCD I know was still not that interesting, sorry.

So where have all of the nuns gone?  Sister Eleanor lived at St. Joan of Arc and she was the principal of St. Joan of Arc.  I wonder how much she was paid for that job?  Wait, was she paid a salary that a lay person would receive if they were principal?  Questions, questions, questions.  When you are a student you just accept things as they are.  We knew that Sister Eleanor lived and was the nun for St. Joan of Arc but how did she get there, what other things did she do, and why are there hardly any more nuns in the Catholic schools as we speak?

I have not gone to a church that had a nun in residency since I was in high school.  Teaching now in a Catholic school I have never had a nun to help in the school or to even come to help from another location.  Attention Rome, we have a problem.  I know that there is a shortage of men wanting to become priests but why do we never hear about the loss of women who want to become nuns to also serve the church?  Well I think that I have discovered the answer to this mystery.

When accepting to teach in a Catholic school you have to accept that you are not going to make the amount of salary that you would if you were teaching in a public school.  This is fine.  I knew that when I decided to teach in the Catholic School System that I was going to be paid less but I liked the idea of teaching science in a school of my religious upbringing.  I began teaching and the answer and or question of where does all of the tuition money go was brought to my attention immediately.  I knew that the tuition has to pay for all of us teachers, no one can work for free.  Wait, the nuns worked for less that us teachers so maybe they knew that they were doing a job in the schools that went past what a person could handle without being paid back.  Yes I know that they were working for the Lord but even the nuns needed money to buy the necessities of life.  I noticed that in both Catholic Schools in which I have taught have out of date books and being in the science class, both were less than accomodating in having science materials that were up to date and lets face it were actually there.  I have had to buy rulers, wire, mechanical pencils, measuring items, and the list goes on and on.  I was and am always willing to buy items that are needed in my classroom but it does get to you.  Do any of you work at a company and have to buy your own kleenex, or paper clips, or glue that actually sticks because the brand that the Catholic School buys is the cheap type from China that actually says on the label, Gleu stick.  This is not a typo, this is what our Chinese Brand Gleu Sticks were labeled.  Also money saved by buying the one ply toilet paper is not acceptable when you are in a school for at least 9 hours.  Teachers do go to the bathroom!

I love teaching in the Catholic School setting.  I love that I can teach science AND can talk about evolution and maybe that if God created everything then maybe he created evolution.  We can talk about religion and not be afraid that a parent is going to complain.  We can celebrate the Holy Days together and we can be gladly interrupted to recite the Hail Mary during a class time.  The only thing that bothers me about the Catholic School system is that they want to have Catholic Schools but the money is not given from the top to help in obtaining all of the supplies that are needed to teach correctly.

I’ve had science books that were last published in the year 2000.  Science is a changing topic and let me tell you that we have learned and discovered a lot in 18 years.  Pluto is still a planet in my Earth Science books, there are some new man made elements missing in my Chemistry book , and they describe a round worm in my Life Science books as a piece of spaghetti.  I do blame the editor of the Life Science book for allowing an obvious non-science person for letting that example slip by.  Worms = living, Spaghetti not living.  I know its a shape example but I am teaching middle school, not preschool.

So lets get back to the missing nuns.  I honestly believe that the churches could not support all of the nuns that would live on campus at the Catholic schools.  Back in the day, all of the teachers were nuns and they have had to work for literally peanuts and a place to sleep and pray.  This is a very giving thing and it is a calling to help to serve God and his church.  I really think that the church itself saw that it was actually cheaper to pay a lay person a cheap salary than to board teacher nuns.  I believe that we Catholic teachers are paid less and it is expected by us that we will buy items ourselves to accommodate what the school needs.  I have already said that I am more than willing to buy items for my science room but it does get expensive and I do have my own kids in college to pay for.  I just believe that if a religion and or a business wants to have a building and a company then they should want to pay for it.  Wait, the Cleveland Browns made the City of Cleveland build a stadium for a team owned by a wealthy owner.  What am I talking about?  All of us poor people need to open our eyes.  Where are the unpaid nuns and where does all of that donated money go?  I’m leaving it at that.

P.S.  I do wish the nuns would come back, we need some female leadership in the Catholic Schools and even in the church.  Mother Mary pray for us for this.  Amen.













I’m back

It only took me 14 days to recover from the Type B flu!  I was visiting in a hospital for two weeks in Ohio, did I get it there?  I used the hand cleanser whenever I saw it so I say no to getting it there.  I was then in NYC and traveled on the subway everyday for 6 days, did I get it there?  I had gloves on the entire time when on the subway and I try not to touch anything when traveling on that system, so I say no to that.  I think I got it from the airflow on my plane trips and those disgusting trays!!!  I now will be traveling with wet wipes to disinfect my seating position!  Where ever I picked up that virus I am glad that I am over it.  I went to the bank a few days ago and they said that I had lost weight!  Well thanks but I almost died, but hey I’m glad that I look good!;)

I will be continuing my book this week.  Hope that none of you have had the flu experience and if you do have it, STAY HOME.

Colder than #$@#$

I am in NYC for one more cold day and then I will continue with my book.  Happy 2018 and stay warm.  We had no intention of watching the ball drop from Times Square last night.  How those people stood out in the cold from 8am until midnight is beyond my understanding of the term fun times in NYC!!!Bnep4ej8SqOMdeb0bDhqdg

I’ll be back

It has been hard to write lately with all that goes on during the holiday season.  With my dad coming out of the hospital and me being back home to help, other activities have over taken the season.  I will be heading to NYC to bring in the NEW YEAR and then I will continue with The Teacher’s View from the Back Pew.



2018 HERE WE COMEfullsizeoutput_aef

Chapter 5 – Money, Money, Money

Religion is a business.  If you do not agree with this then you must not go to church very often, you do not go to church related activities, and you just keep passing the basket past you each weekend at the Catholic mass.

Look, I know that everything costs money.  NOTHING is free.  I used to work at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  People from all over come to go through the museum and of course they end up in the museum store.  You cannot believe the comments from people informing me at the register how expensive the HOF items were.  My response was always, “Nothing is free from the NFL.”  Its the same at any church.  If you want to go to a church that is comfortable and has working air conditioning and heat then it takes money.  One thing that makes the Pro Football Hall of Fame and any religious institution seem like peas in a pod is their non-profit status.  What does this mean?  Basically it means that they have no true owners so the people who head the non-profit institution are not making a profit.  So now that I see this one attribute that connects the Catholic Church and the Pro Football HOF.  Where does all the money go?  I know that the Catholic Church helps many people with donations and with services so their money collection and where it goes makes sense most of the time.  Now the Pro Football HOF is another question and my next book!  That will probably be called Touch Down Jesus II.

The Catholic Church as a whole has 271,602 churches worldwide with 20,000 of these churches in the United States.  There are 70,412,021 registered Catholics in the U.S.  That actually means that there are most likely 72,000,000 million Catholics in the United States.  The extra two million are the unregistered Catholics that appear at Christmas and Easter and are the sitters in the main church who arrive an hour before mass to sit with every member of their family thus making my family sit in the adjacent building for church overflow.  I have never sat in the main church for either of these masses because I choose not to put myself in the position of fighting for any pews to sit in whether they be in the back or in the front.  We always sit in the other building and guess what other people who show up twice a year?  We get out before you because our communion line is shorter!

As I now look at these numbers I have solved the Catholic Church’s problem in attaining money.  It simply needs to ask every registered Catholic to send in one dollar and there is $70,412,021.00 yearly.  I  think that everyone would donate their dollar easily every year.  Why haven’t they thought of this yet?  Is is too simple to ask?  They could ask for that one dollar but I know that there would be the Harvard economics whiz on the church board who would then add that we might as well ask for any other monetary donation that the tither would see fit to give.  Man, the Harvard whiz just killed my one dollar idea and now as is common in most Catholic churches, you give what you can and what your heart and conscious tells you to give.  I still like the one dollar yearly for a starter fund.

So if you are not Catholic let’s tell you all about how the Catholic Church collects money.  First they collect weekly at all of the weekend masses.  If you are registered at the church where you always attend they will send you mass collection envelopes that are highly decorated.  Some are decorated so that you can clearly see that the envelope with the Christmas poinsettia is for the Christmas mass.  Some envelopes have scenes on them though that really confuse the giver and some envelopes I have noticed are for the extra giving days that may have a missionary from another country and or group that is also asking for money for their efforts of help.  When your monthly envelope pack comes in the mail for a two month cycle it should have about 10 envelopes correct?  Mine has about 25.  I will be honest I look through the envelopes and decide which I will be using.  I wonder if there is anyone out there that always uses all of their envelopes?  Please get in touch with me if you do!

So the church collects at each mass and they do this with baskets that are passed down the row and each person either drops their church envelope into the basket or they may choose to drop loose bills into that basket for collection.  It is kind of like the hot potato game in that if you do not add to the collection when the basket comes your way you pass the basket on quite quickly.  If you are making an offering then you can take 2-4 seconds longer to place that offering in the basket making sure that you allow everyone to know that yes I’m giving this Sunday, are you?  As you read this you should also realize that if you do attend a Catholic mass you do watch who puts in on that day and who doesn’t, you are tracking that basket.  Next time that you go to mass try not to watch, its a hard job.

When I was a kid the ushers had baskets on a stick.  They would go to each pew and would slide the basket down so that if you were giving money you just dropped it in as the basket on a stick went on by you.  I always was waiting for an usher to hit someone in the head with the basket on a stick move.  I’m sure it had to happen at some time.  Sadly I never got to see that spectacle.  The baskets on a stick were replaced by regular baskets and the collision basket happening was taken from ever being checked off on my personal bucket list.

Another money collection activity has been added in addition to the basket pass it down collection at weekend masses.  When the baskets are being passed to the adults, the smaller children are given money to personally take up onto the altar in front of the priest who is serving that mass.  The kids wander up, they usually give the priest a hug, they throw the money into that basket and then they try to find their way back to their parents.  I have seen kids get lost and their parents have to retrieve them.  The kids are cute going up to the altar and the best is when the animated kid jumps off of those altar stairs to return to their pew.  I’m waiting for a kid to get hurt doing this and then this form of money collection will be stopped. Well, it will either be stopped or collection helmets will be sold.  There is another money collection idea!

When you are a kid and the money basket goes by you, you cannot help yourself at looking into the basket to see how much money has been collected.  I remember looking at how much money was collected as I sat in the middle pews with my family, to me it was a lot.  Now that I write this, I can only imagine how much money was in the basket as it hit that back pew!  I wonder of it ever overflowed and had to be emptied before everyone gave?  I will never know this unless I can find a chronic back row kid sitter from St. Joan of Arc.

My favorite collection story is from my friend who lives in Findlay, Ohio and goes to St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.  Dana’s youngest child Abby was always inquisitive and was ahead of her time when it came to understanding and in thinking beyond her years.  I remember being at their house before Christmas when Abby was about 5 years old.  I wanted gift ideas from Abby so that I could get her a Christmas present that she would really want.  I asked her and her answer was, “I want boobies for Christmas.”  We all laughed because we all were sure that Abby was just being funny.  “NOPE!”, came the comment from Dana, “thats all she has really been asking for!.”  I tell this story to lay the way of how this curly red headed girl reacted to situations.  I told you, she was ahead of her age group.  Abby was always a character and this attitude was also maintained in the church environment.  Dana tells the story of how Abby, while sitting on her dad’s lap while he had fallen asleep in church was waiving her hand in front of his face to check for life.  With everyone looking, Abby kept on testing her dad.  Is he sleeping?  Let me put my hand in front of his face.  No movement.  Let me put my fingers under his nose.  Yep, we’ve got air movement.  So now that you know Abby, you can envision her bouncy walk up to the altar to give money for a Sunday kids collection.  One Sunday Dana gave her a five dollar bill to take to the altar collection basket. Dana remembers Abby looking at the five as though they were allowing her to give their entire lunch money savings for this weeks offering.  Five dollars even ten years ago was a lot of money to a five year old.  Abby went up to the altar, its a straight shot down the aisle at St. Michaels, and Dana sees her up there with the other kids.  Abby returns to their pew without the usage of a map or GPS and Dana tells Abby that she did a good thing giving money to Jesus.  Abby responds with a hand out and says, “Here, I got you change!”.  She handed Dana 2 ones and a quarter.  She was used to her mom giving her one dollar to take up.  Abby was also good at math and counting money at her age!

Money.  You go to church and they collect it.  They put it to good use.  Then you go and work in a Catholic school and your whole conception of money collection processes takes a sharp right turn.

I never attended a Catholic school so I was not used to all of the money collection opportunities given when you are part of a Catholic school.  There are your regular fund raising opportunities that all schools have.  Who out there never sold wrapping paper or popcorn to raise money for their school?  We all at some point were asked to sell items and then we could have a chance of being the high seller and then we won a prize of the cheapest local pizza to share with our friends who sold nothing.  I’ll admit it.  I never sold anything other than the items that my own parents bought.  Once again, just ask each student’s parents to chip in maybe five dollars and we wouldn’t have had to send kids out to peddle wrapping paper.

In the Catholic School setting I do not think that one week of school goes by where some sort of money collection is not in the mix of the actual learning at school.  At the schools in which I have taught they had T-shirt sales for special days like the Halloween festival, the parents volleyball tournament, the 8th grade students special t-shirt, the Christmas pageant shirt, and the field day t-shirt.  I have a lot of t-shirts!  Then we also threw in days where the kids paid to not wear their uniforms.  Untuck for a Buck!  Ok so you bring in one dollar and its a day free of plaid.  Good way to raise money but that title is a trick!  It’s not just a buck to untuck your uniform shirt, no!  You can pay another buck to wear a non-uniform shirt.  Another buck allows you to wear crazy socks.  White daily socks ARE boring.  No belt for the day, add another buck.  Want to wear jeans?  Hold on to your wallets, that costs five bucks.  I have helped collect for this Untuck for a Buck day which happens maybe once a month.  Kids bring in baggies of money.  They follow the “buck list” to a T.   As teachers we had the job of making sure that what the student had on and if the student paid that they had the right clothes on or if they were still in their uniform.  Do you think that I had the time for this?  No, I wasn’t going to pay to go to work to get paid.  Really, read that last sentence to yourself again.  It does make sense.

The best money maker during the school year in the diocese where I worked in the Houston area is the Steps for Students money drive.  The money that is collected is to go to each school that participates.  Students sign up people who will donate to them for their school when they run or walk a 5K.  This sort of collection is common for a lot of places that want to raise money.  Last year they raised over one million dollars.  People are very giving and they are very giving of their money towards Catholic education.  Here is the best part of when you sign up for Steps for Students.  I will say that someone creative is in the mix to get to that million dollar goal.  First as a teacher I had to sign up and to do this I had to pay ten dollars.  Ok, so I work for them and I would collect for this event but first I myself who was part of the collection had to donate ten dollars.  Second, the event is held on a Saturday morning, early morning that is and you have the choice to “Hit a Snooze button” when you signed up if you were going to collect money to “run or walk” the 5K but knew that you were going to actually get up to go the distance to collect money from your donators who truly thought that you had it in you to run and or walk a 5K.  Genius idea I tell you!  Tell people that you are going to push yourself to go the distance for education and then just hit that button to snooze your Saturday away but you still get the donations.  Go fund me!!!!!

The Catholic Church is said to be one of the wealthiest churches in our world.  They want to have Catholic schools to spread our beliefs.  I have worked in a Catholic school and believe me when I say that I did not work there for the amount of salary that I was given and that is fine.  I did not choose to work in a Catholic school setting to become a millionaire.  My one problem is that the Catholic Church wants to have schools, parents pay tuition but still there is never enough money to properly equip the school.  Collect that dollar from all of the registered Catholics and maybe we could have that money go to purchasing up to date books and technology like the public schools and other private schools out there have.  I do not understand wanting a school and or a business and then not having the money to build and maintain your investment.  Its like the NFL.  Owners own the team and then expect citizens fo build the stadium for them.   (Can you tell that I am a Cleveland Browns fan?)   I really need to come up with my business plan where everyone gives me money to build my dream.  Maybe I should start a collection?!