Natalie Lyzinski, a teacher at Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy's Lower Mills campus, discusses a language arts learning activity with sixth grade students Marlisha Amisial, Anabelis Diaz and Ferry Armand. Lyzinski is in her second year with the Urban Catholic Teachers Corps. Pilot photo/Jim Lockwood
"It was in that sharing and that breaking of bread, which is in our faith tradition, there was some amazing grace that came out of that during my time there," said Caitlin Keeton, who graduated from the program in 2008 and is now the principal at St. Rose School in Chelsea.
"Some days are so bad it's easy to lose track of why you're there and what you're part of," Keeton continued. "It helps to share in the good stuff, too. When you have a great day and something funny happens and you don't have anybody to tell it to, it sort of gets forgotten."
Every Tuesday night, the UCTC meets for prayer and reflection.
For first year teacher Maureen Walsh, the spiritual component of the program is enriching.
"It carries you through the day in a way that you know you're doing God's work," said Walsh, who teaches math and science at Elizabeth Seton Academy in Dorchester.
Scott Hess, who teaches grades 4 through 8 science classes at St. Columbkille School in Brighton, said the UCTC teachers attend Mass in groups or individually.
The spiritual component of the program also includes group retreats, which are held in the summer, fall and spring.
The UCTC graduated its first cohort in 1999. It was founded when Peter Lynch, one of the major donors of the program, saw a similar program in Chicago and wanted to implement the idea in Boston.
Since that time, the program has graduated 63 teachers.
Lynch said he wanted to start the UCTC program to place young teachers in urban Catholic schools, which at one time were nearly fully staffed by religious, but now are nearly all lay faculty.
"These are outstanding individuals with a lot of enthusiasm. They're young. They have a lot of new ideas," Lynch said. "It's refreshing for the schools. You get someone in their 20s with a lot of vision."
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