Development day gathering highlights virtues in education and school safety

By Joanna Puddister King
MADISON – Diocesan schools will continue to focus on strengthening Catholic culture and school safety during the new academic year that has begun for all students.
The Office of Catholic Education hosted a development day for diocesan teachers and staff on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison with featured presenters Sister John Dominic Rasmussen, OP and Jim Brown, a school resource analyst with the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security.
“This day is filled with blessings, inspiration and joy for all who make our schools successful,” said executive director of Catholic Schools, Karla Luke. “This tradition is a fantastic opportunity for teachers and staff from around the diocese to share ideas that benefit our students and families and showcase the richness of our Catholic education.”

MADISON – Educators around the diocese gathered and heard from speakers Jim Brown (left), a school resource analyst with the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security and Sister John Dominic Rasmussen, OP (right), an over 30-year veteran of Catholic education.

The day began with a Mass with Bishop Joseph Kopacz in the performing arts building for the over 400 in attendance.
“Education is that gift of coming out of the darkness and ignorance into the light of faith, hope and love,” said Bishop Kopacz. “And, into the light of knowledge, wisdom and grace, like the Lord himself.”
Keynote speaker, Sister John Dominic highlighted the importance of grace as a part of the role of teachers and staff in the mission of Catholic education. She said that teachers can bring grace to their classrooms and to families, in order to help develop relationships and a Catholic culture that can aid in leading students and their families to God’s amazing grace through virtues in education.
“Grace is our participation in God’s light,” Sister John Dominic said to the crowd. “It is truly amazing!”
Sister John Dominic’s talk was especially fitting with this year’s theme “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,” for Catholic schools from the Office of Education.
Educators also had the opportunity to hear from Jim Brown, who shared essential information on school safety. He has trained teaching staff around the state in best practices of responding to targeted violence and dangerous perpetrators through the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events, or CRASE training.
“You are the last line of defense for those babies,” Brown told teachers and staff.
Teachers and staff also had the opportunity to come together and network with each other, plan collaboratively and share best practices.
“I enjoyed meeting with teachers from other schools in the diocese and hearing about how they were implementing the ‘Amazing Grace’ theme into their schools this year. I heard some great ideas that I am eager to bring back to our school,” said Jordan Amborn, director of student affairs at Vicksburg Catholic School.
Of the event, Bishop Kopacz said, “Today and every day, we pray for encouragement and building one another up in the Lord.”

MADISON – Educators gathered in prayer during Mass with Bishop Joseph Kopacz for their annual development day at St. Joseph School on Tuesday, Sept. 5. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)