Gifts From Gifted Teachers
August 28, 2020
If you have been a student of Theology of the Body for even a short time, you know in your heart that every human person is a gift — unique and unrepeatable. Teachers especially live this out — making a gift of self every time they smile and step in front of the classroom. In our ministry, we encounter amazing teachers every day: joyful, compassionate, faithful, nurturing. So, when we embarked on creating the new ROOTED Unit Lesson Plans this summer for Kindergarten through Grade 5, we tapped into the generosity and mindfulness of some of these teachers to help make these lessons a simple and powerful way into our ROOTED TOB curriculum.
Although the last thing they ask for is the spotlight, we feel compelled to acknowledge the great gift these individuals are giving all teachers, catechists, and parents through this ambitious project. Although many teachers have provided valuable feedback throughout the Unit Lesson Plan development process, Maria Cossell, Tina Ramundo, and Laura Hueneman have spent a great deal of time working with Ruah Woods Press’ DJ Hueneman and Dr. Joan Kingsland in helping to bring this important work to fruition. We asked our educator guest contributors to offer their thoughts about introducing TOB to schoolchildren, the ROOTED curriculum and the development of these new K-5 Unit Lesson Plans.
Maria Cossell graciously shares her experience,
“Having taught Theology of the Body in a grade school setting for years, I have seen firsthand the fruits of teaching children the truth about what it means to be a child God. I have witnessed students transformed in front of my eyes. All of a sudden, they become more alive and are filled with joy and peace. I have watched them develop a deeper and more personal relationship with Christ, especially in the Eucharist. I have freely given of my time to assist Ruah Woods Press with their curriculum because I long for all children to discover the truth of their identity; only then will they be able to live a life of true freedom, happiness, and peace.”
Tina Ramundo thoughtfully reflects,
“I have genuinely loved working on these lessons. I know from direct experience just how much our students are hungry for the truths found in TOB. I have seen how they react when they first begin to digest the truth that they are unique and unrepeatable, made in God’s image by love to love, a Child of God with an incredible purpose. It changes everything for them. They know that they are loved and that they are needed. Through the ROOTED lessons, they are exposed to a worldview that reveals their purpose and the path to true happiness.
In response, even the youngest students begin to seek out ways to live their life as a gift; helping to cheer up a sad friend, holding the door for someone, picking up a spilled box of crayons. These may seem like little things, but they are life-changing because the students are actively choosing to give of themselves and it brings them great joy. They are experiencing what it is like to live out their purpose, they are empowered, and happy. What an incredible gift to give a child!
The ROOTED materials make TOB come to life in such an accessible way. I was in awe of how ROOTED is able to present such deep and fundamental truths in such a powerful and authentic way. These are lessons that will set the tone not just for a day or a week or a school year, they will lay a foundation for a lifetime of joyful discipleship. I am honored to have been asked to be a part of such an important project, and I pray that it will help teachers continue to give this most beautiful gift to each of their students for years to come. “
Finally, Laura Hueneman adds her unique perspective,
“From my years of experience teaching students in inner-city Catholic schools, I recognize how vital it is for teachers to introduce TOB at a young age. By building a strong foundation of truths early on, students will more easily recognize themselves as a gift and seek ways to be a gift to others. Understanding the time and money constraints teachers often face, we strived to provide everything the teacher and students would need to begin their TOB journey together.”
These Unit Lesson Plans are designed to give educators, at any level, all that they need to immediately begin teaching Theology of the Body. Educators will find five lessons for each grade level K-5 with step-by-step guidance throughout each lesson. However, for those aspiring educators looking for more insight and confidence to start, we have developed training specifically for these unit lesson plans to put even more “flesh on the bones” and joy in the heart. Our Receiving the Gift training is designed for parents teaching at home for the first time, catechists, and teachers. Through five online, hour-long sessions, we break open the five lessons contained in these beautiful teaching guides. These begin in September and there is still space to sign-up for a virtual seat.
The Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 Unit Lesson Plan books are being shipped free to any purchasers of ROOTED Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 curriculum in the past — and will be included with new orders going forward. Depending on the speed of the postal service these days, educators should expect to receive these materials by the end of September. Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5 Unit Lesson Plans should be expected to be received by the end of October, shipping free as well to past and future Grades 3-5 curriculum purchasers, once available. However, any educators signed up for Receiving the Gift training this September will get the first peek at all these lessons (K-5) through that training.
We are grateful to all that the Holy Spirit has sent our way to help this garden of joy-filled teaching that will burst into bloom in classrooms, parish centers, and kitchen tables across our country and beyond this fall. We thank specifically, Maria, Tina and Laura for their gifted contributions, and other skilled leaders in TOB education, namely Katrina Zeno, Denise Donohue and Vickie Geckle for their willingness to engage in this work on a moment’s notice for the sake of the Kingdom. God is good. And teachers — who make a sincere gift of self every day — are a sign of God’s blessing in this world. Amen to that.
Director of Curriculum Development at Ruah Woods Press