Creating connections from Madrid to Nebraska

Jenna Cusick

On the first day of school, Profe Amy Brabec’s students completed a get-to-know-you presentation to learn a little about their profesora de espanol’s life.  Many of the questions were predictable, such as where she went to college or where she grew up. When the answer to where Brabec currently lives was revealed to be a convent, students had many questions.  This story has the answer to the question Marian girls have been wondering all year: Why does Brabec live in a convent?

Brabec completed her undergraduate degree at the University of St. Louis (SLU) in Madrid.  She majored in Spanish and got a degree in Secondary Education. “After working in schools in Spain during undergrad, I knew that I wanted to become a teacher.”  Her time working at schools in Spain is what inspired her to become a teacher. “SLU-Madrid does not offer an education major, so I had to find an alternative teacher formation program,” she said.  “I heard about Magis from my aunt. It seemed like a good fit for me because my dad is a Creighton alum and the program director immediately made me feel comfortable and cared for.”

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Brabec is a part of Creighton University’s Magis Catholic Teacher Corps.  Magis is a two-year post graduate program that, according to magisctc.org,  “strives to form a corps of talented, highly motivated, and faith-filled educators to teach in Catholic elementary and secondary schools.”  While members of the Magis program teach in Catholic schools, they are earning their master’s degree in education through Creighton’s program.  “In exchange for our service at our placement schools, we receive a living stipend and a tuition scholarship.”

Magis has six communities in Omaha and Winnebago, NE, Sioux City, IA, Kansas City, KS & MO Pine Ridge, SD, Milwaukee, WI, Tucson, AZ and a total of 32 teachers.  The mission of the magis program is “to serve Catholic schools in the Midwest -and around the country now- and to promote spirituality with students and to work hard on becoming strong professionals,” Brabec said.  

Magis teachers take online classes during the school year and live in community together.  “The program arranges different workshops and programs that give us relevant training and information that is helpful to us,” she said.     

Brabec and former Marian Spanish teacher Mr. Andrew Bauer were the only Magis teachers placed at Marian, but many other current teachers were a part of the program in the past.  Ms. Caitlyn Gaule, Mrs. Jillian Roger, Mr. Peter Cunningham, and Mr. Timothy Barth were Magis teachers in the past.

Brabec’s community is at a convent with five other Magis teachers.  “We have meals together, we pray together, and we do fun things together,” she said.  “There is definitely a lot that comes with living with people that have different personalities.”

Although others may find it unusual that Brabec lives in a convent, she has grown accustomed to it.  “I don’t think about it every day anymore. It’s fun to come home and have other girls there that are teachers, so we can unwind together,” she said.  She also noted that the “convent” is no longer functioning as a convent. “The sisters who lived there left a few years ago. We all have our own rooms, where the sisters once stayed.  The layout is similar to a hallway of single dorms,” Brabec said.

Brabec is in her second year of the program.  “My favorite part [of the Magis program] is the range of communities and experiences with which it has provided me.  From classes at Creighton to working at Marian to living at Creighton Prep and then a convent, there are so many facets to the program that I never would have been able to experience otherwise.  Magis has brought amazingly supportive people into my life,” Brabec said.

 They focus on the spiritual tradition of the Jesuits in Magis.  “One thing that I particularly appreciate about Jesuit spirituality is the reminder to find God in all things in our everyday lives.”  Brabec credits Magis for helping her learn more about her faith. “I have learned that people live out their faith in different ways. I have come to appreciate the different perspectives and practices that my Magis friends have in regards to faith.”  

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