Written by Ms. Colleen Brady
On a Friday in early November, instead of quizzing my ELA students on their new vocabulary words, I walked them over to Georgetown University for a session of Christian meditation. During the 12 minutes of silence, some students delighted in the peace, others had a hard time with the stillness, and one even fell asleep in the quiet. When we walked back, all expressed gratitude and told me how much they needed that time to let stress melt away and pray. I know that vocabulary practice is very important for my students intellectually, but I also want to show them that caring for their spiritual, social, emotional, and physical well-being is equally important. This is one way I practice cura personalis as a teacher.
Cura Personalis is an Ignatian value that refers to caring for the whole person – mind, body and spirit. Jesuit schools seek to nurture and promote the best in everyone, and help each one to reach his or her greatest human potential. Cura Personalis is bringing snacks for my hungry eighth graders. It’s going to chapel mass and praying the examen at the beginning of 7th period. It’s collaborating with other teachers and communicating with parents. It’s being present and attentive to what students need most in the moment. Cura Personalis is not easy, and I am not perfect at living it out, but most of all, I hope my students know I deeply care about them, wholly.
I aim to encourage my students every day and help them recognize that their value does not lie solely in their intellect, but also in their talents, personalities, desires, hearts, faith, and ability to be a good friend to others. Cura personalis also implies a commitment to inclusivity and caring for students of all background and experiences. In my teaching, I try to help students learn about each other’s different traditions, experiences, and cultures to help build a more inclusive community. Our library is full of diverse books that help students practice empathy and understanding. My hope is that through their Jesuit education, students will learn to live out cura personalis with one another.