by Julia Veik
To learn, it takes a dedicated student and an even more dedicated teacher. Marian has provided its students with teachers who positively impact them on a daily basis.
Mr. Matthew Winterboer began teaching physics at Marian in the 2015-2016 school year after spending seven years directly out of college as an engineer for the Navy on submarines and three years as an engineer at the Omaha Public Power District after leaving the Navy. Teaching was always on his radar, but he expected to do it much later in his life.
“I loved engineering, and I still love engineering, but I always kind of thought, ‘You know, maybe someday later on in life, when I’m retired, I can go back and be a high school science teacher.’ As the years progressed, I realized that I didn’t want to wait until retirement age, I wanted to do it sooner, so then I pursued that,” Winterboer said.
While he was student teaching, he saw a posting for a physics teacher at Marian and jumped at the opportunity because being able to exclusively teach physics was the dream for him. The environment was different for him at first because he was not used to students being so motivated to learn.
“I’ve gone from trying to motivate students to care to trying to get students to just calm down, because sometimes the stress level gets a little high in this building, so I’m trying to get students to just relax and say ‘Okay, let’s take this in stride,’” Winterboer said.
Winterboer has the freedom to share his passion for physics with his students because of the trust other faculty members and administration show in him. He can open students’ minds to engineering and possible STEM careers, which is something he truly enjoys.
“I know by the time I see students as juniors it might be a little late in the game, as far as a lot of them have made up their mind on what their interests are. If I can open some more eyes to the possibilities, at least in consideration for engineering-type careers, that’s a huge bonus and something I enjoy doing,” Winterboer said.
The shift to teaching at Marian was a natural one for French teacher Madame Janet Tuttle. She student-taught French at Millard South and then taught for three years at Roncalli before stepping away from teaching for 10 years to stay at home with her children. Just as she was reconsidering teaching, Marian advertised for a French teacher. She took the opportunity and has been at Marian ever since.
“I just love the people. I love the students, and I love the people I work with. I like that we are free to sing Christmas carols in French, learn to pray in French and go to Mass together. I love that people have chosen to be here. People behave differently in a place where they’re excited to be there,” Tuttle explained. “What I like in particular about my job is that for many kids, I get you for four years. I get you when you’re 14 and I keep you until you’re 18, and I think that’s a real privilege.”
That same privilege was realized by Mr. Kent Bray when he came straight out of a short retirement from a career of 30 years as a math teacher and administrator in the Papillion La-Vista school district to fill Marian’s opening for a math teacher. He has been teaching math at Marian for two years while also participating in the athletics side of the school as an assistant varsity basketball coach. He has enjoyed seeing the impact being a athlete has on students’ organization skills.
“I think the nice thing is that we have found out that our students who do participate, whether it’s a sport or any activity, they do better in school. We know it’s a lot of hard work but one of the many benefits of athletics is that students learn time management and learn how to work through frustration. They learn how to handle those things, and so I think those two things just go well together,” Bray said.
The students that Bray has encountered have been eager to learn, which makes for a better teaching environment
“I’m excited to come here every day, I see that in many of the students as well. It’s such a close knit environment, the kids are involved in so many things besides just the school part of it and I think that’s what makes it such a neat environment.”
The staff at Marian helps to form their students and coworkers into better people in an environment that feels like home. The family aspect is what draws people to Marian and keeps them there, and it’s what allows students to leave as confident women ready to take on the world.