Spring 2019 Newsletter

Senior lives by the sword and the spirit

Lauren Monaghan parlays education experience into a future in faith formation

Lauren Monaghan

L-R: Gabriella Smith (2018 Knight of Honor), Dr. Helen-Grace Ryan, Lauren Monaghan, President Susan Donovan and Ryan Stevens (2018 Knight of Honor). Photo by Hunter O’Brien.

Lauren Monaghan is hard to miss. Especially when she appears at basketball games wearing her red-and-white game-day bib overalls with the silver knight’s head on the front.

Lauren clearly has a lot of spirit—in many ways. After graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in secondary social studies education and a minor in theology, she will head to the University of Notre Dame for a full-ride master’s degree, with a view to becoming a high school religion teacher.

“We [teachers] have such an impact on students’ lives,” she says of the prospect of helping to transform students intellectually and spiritually. “Teachers helped make me who I am and [I share] that care, compassion and love for students.”

With multiple teachers in her immediate family—both her brother and her father teach locally—Lauren found the path a natural one, albeit with a few bends in the road. “I was going to minor in English to make myself a more diverse and attractive teacher candidate, but then I got bitten by the theology bug”—via Dr. Greg Hillis’ Life and Legacy of Merton class. “[Dr. Hillis’] encouragement pushed me out the door,” she says.

That door led to a new room in her life when Dr. Patrick Englert (Ph.D. ’18) invited her to join the Campus Ministry team as a part-time employee. (She also teaches CCD to sixth- and seventh-graders at Ascension.) Further fortified by this new aspect of ministry, Lauren applied to Notre Dame’s selective Echo Graduate Service Program under its Teaching track, enthusiastically stressing her professional semester experience at Iroquois High School in her letter of intent. “I’m forever thankful to Bellarmine for sending us to teach JCPS students,” she notes. “It was an eye-opening experience.”

But, again, her vision was unexpectedly refocused when she was chosen for Echo’s other track, Parish Leadership, in which she will be assigned to one of nine partner archdioceses coast to coast. “I was shocked,” she says. “I thought it was a mistake.” Regardless of her destination, Lauren’s teacher’s heart is ever present: “There’s still a strong teaching component—youth groups, CCD, adult formation, enriching [people’s] own faith experiences.” Dr. Englert, too, is enthusiastic about Lauren’s upcoming Echo experience. “She possesses a contagious energy that will most certainly rally the community around her and provide numerous opportunities for teaching and learning,” he says.

With her wealth of Bellarmine experiences—Campus Ministry work, student teaching, and membership in the education honor society Kappa Delta Pi—Lauren’s crowning (and perhaps most visible) achievement came when President Susan Donovan dubbed her a Knight of Honor—sword and all—at the Knights’ homecoming game in February. She and mathematics major Max Cartor were chosen from a pool of seniors deemed strong leaders on campus and representative of Bellarmine’s mission and values. Lauren did not wear the candy-cane-striped overalls but a still-eye-catching red pantsuit fit for a female knight. “Dame Monaghan at your service,” she quips, laughing.

Dame Lauren will have very little downtime before heading to South Bend. She will take classes for two months starting June 9, then report to her still-undetermined home parish about the same time her fellow Knights still here will start, and take online courses toward the theology degree Dr. Hillis encouraged her to pursue. What comes after that, naturally, is not yet written.

“I realized that my path is not set... I’ll be good wherever I go,” she says. “It’s God’s plan, not mine.” As for why she was chosen for Parish Leadership, it remains a mystery. “Maybe I’ll ask them [why] one day.”

If Lauren has any say in the matter, however, she will return to the classroom for her career. “I’m not crossing anything out. I’d kind of like to teach at the collegiate level.... Theology, higher ed—lots of different paths.” Regardless, she plans to beat a path back to Louisville in two years, joking, “If I meet my husband in the next two years and he doesn’t want to come here, it’s not going to work out.”

But Lauren can’t come back until she leaves, and that part makes her emotional. “It’s going to be hard to leave in May,” she says. Wherever she does wind up, though, she cannot help but take a bit of Bellarmine with her. “Gotta have lots of spirit—it makes life more enjoyable,” she says. “’Go Knights! Swords up!’ I’ll be saying that on my deathbed.”

Honor society inducts new cohort

Kappa Delta Pi gives honors education students a new community to call their own

KDP Induction

Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, reactivated after a long period of dormancy, inducting dozens of students from all levels to its Bellarmine-based Alpha Gamma Epsilon chapter on January 13.

As Dr. Winn Wheeler explains, the chapter is poised for great growth, with the initiation pool drawn from students across all education programs as well as several faculty members. “KDP hosted three events for students during the spring semester,” she says, “and the organization is working to develop a larger presence within the School of Education” in the coming year.

In her address to the new inductees and their families, lifelong educator Dr. Anne Bucalos—vice provost for Faculty Development and former associate dean of the School of Education—related a story from one of her MAT students who originally had aspired to a career in medicine. When the physician interviewing him for medical school asked why he wanted to be a doctor, the student said, “I want to help lots of people in many different ways. I want to make a difference.” To which the physician said, “Then you shouldn’t become a doctor. You should become a teacher, because a teacher is in a position to affect thousands of lives in very meaningful ways.”

Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins, interim dean of the School of Education, seconded the importance of teachers, emphasizing that their passion must extend beyond having a love for children: “You have to love and have the courage and the heart to ask questions and to seek knowledge—knowledge of your content, knowledge of your students, and knowledge of yourself.” Dr. Christy McGee summed up the spirit of the evening in one sentence: “We started this chapter a long time ago, and now to be able to put new life in it and to have 32 inductees to his organization is really thrilling.”

Seniors lift spirits at Pine Ridge

Two art education seniors take their practice on the road

Students drawingSeniors Mackenzie Guice and Kylee Mitchell completed a portion of their student teaching at the Little Wound Elementary School in Kyle, South Dakota (Pine Ridge Reservation). While on site they saw the need for art supplies; a gofundme drive raised enough funds in just 24 hours to create and supply a mobile art cart for the teachers to utilize in the future. They also created two permanent, major art projects. Their efforts, modeled on the “What Lifts You” art movement, were recognized in the spring issue of Bellarmine magazine’s Creativity issue—and the two students also exhibited at the Fine Arts department’s senior art show.

Dr. Belinda Harlow secured the student teaching opportunity in conjunction with Oglala Lakota College, also on the reservation, in a county with the lowest per capita income in the United States. As she told the magazine, “Native American reservations represent an underserved population with separate and unique cultures, a drastic history and segregation that is still prevalent, and immersion for my students in a setting they often didn’t know existed within our country.”

Alternative spring break scouting in the Dominican Republic

Students explore a whole new world in collaboration with peers from across Bellarmine

Students and faculty abroad

For 2019’s alternative spring break, 17 Bellarmine students from Education, Physical Therapy, Exercise Science, Athletic Training and Respiratory Therapy traveled to Santiago in the Dominican Republic with a view to make the city a regular destination. Dr. Kristin Cook envisions course offerings with other departments and class levels (undergraduate and doctoral) starting the spring break or summer of 2020. She described the cultural shift forced by the newly mandated daylong school day in a country where athletics, not education, is seen as the way out of poverty.

“The incorporation of the Dominican Republic as a place for education students to study culture, schooling and health aligns with the university’s goal of transformational educational experiences, internationalism and global sustainability,” explains Dr. Cook, who led AFTSE students on the trip. “It enables students to experience a cross-departmental collaboration as they deepen their appreciation of cultural influences within the framework of educational policies and practices.”

AFTSE interim dean among Bingham Fellows for 2019

Ad hoc think tank explores the community’s role in helping students thrive

Headshots of participants

Associate dean Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins was among 41 community leaders selected for the Leadership Louisville Center’s Bingham Fellows Class of 2019. The Fellows—drawn from across the city and hailing from various health, education, and community development organizations and businesses—initially convened on Muhammad Ali’s birthday and will collaborate on projects around the topic, “It Takes a Village: Mobilizing Community for Student Success.”

“I’m excited to be part of Bingham Fellows and to collaborate with so many leaders from different professional backgrounds,” Dr. Dinkins says. “As part of our sessions, we’ve heard from some wonderfully innovative thinkers in education and educational policy. The entire group is focused on tackling ways in which the Louisville community can support the success of K-12 students.” Although the final project is still taking shape, she says, “it’s invigorating to be part of such a dynamic and collaborative community focused on that same challenge.”

Congratulations to our new doctors!

patphinishedThe following students passed their dissertations and will graduate as Ph.D.s in May:

  • Pat Carver (February)
  • Jennifer Englert-Copeland (March)
  • Alexandra (Ali) Taylor (March)
  • Glenn Kosse (March)
  • Elizabeth Cassady (March)
  • Jessica Taylor (March)
  • Leslie Maxie (March)

Bellarmine Ed Knights making a difference

TEDx speakerCongratulations to the following students and alumni for their above-and-beyond achievements this spring:

  • Tina Bojanowski (MAT ‘09, Ph.D. ‘17), a Watterson Elementary ECE teacher, became the new representative of Kentucky's House District 32 (D-32). As she told LEO Weekly shortly afterward, “When I was asked to run for the General Assembly, I was nearing completion of a Ph.D. in education and social change from Bellarmine University. I knew that I wanted to drive social change for those who are most vulnerable, but I wasn’t sure just how I was going to do it. The impact of state-level government on education led me to run; a concern for our democracy pushed me forward on a daily basis.”
  • Also in January, a Bryan Hamann, a Ph.D. student in Leadership in Higher Education, received the 2019 Outstanding New Professional Award for ACPA Kentucky (also known as the College Personnel Association of Kentucky–CPAK). “I was very excited and humbled to be recognized as the Outstanding New Professional by the College Personnel Association of Kentucky,” he says. “Working on a college campus can be very rewarding yet exhaustive opportunity, so it was a renewment of energy to have my contributions to student development be acknowledged.”
  • In February, Matt Fisher (MAT ‘15) was recognized with the WHAS/LG&E ExCEL Award for organizing the first engineering program at Olmsted Academy North, where he teaches mechanical engineering. Upon receiving the award, he said, “It takes a lot of trust when a teacher comes to you and says, ‘I want to put power tools and hand tools in the hands of 12- to 14-year-old kids’... [I'm] very fortunate to be in a school where the atmosphere is such that when somebody has an idea, that they’re supported.”
  • Rev. Caitlin Simpson, a Ph.D. student in Education and Social Change, shared some thought-provoking words at Bellarmine’s very first TEDx talk on March 1. “What I’m realizing is that this term, ‘inclusive,’ is actually often misunderstood with the term ‘tolerance,’” she said.
  • In April, Lauren Graham (MAT ’06), a second-grade teacher at Lincoln Performing Arts School, won the Hilliard Lyons Teacher Excellence Award, designed to honor a JCPS teacher “demonstrating innovation in the classroom via the strategic plan, Vision 2020.” She says, “I was blown away to hear that I was nominated for this amazing award. It was such an honor to represent Bellarmine.” In announcing her achievement on its Facebook page, the school wrote, “Joining our school this year, Ms. Graham has ignited fire in our students and creates a classroom where learners thrive.”