Catholic school teachers shine the ‘Light of Learning’
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend celebrates its outstanding educators each year by announcing “Light of Learning” award recipients. The award goes to an educator at each diocesan Catholic school whose skills as an educator and catechist are deemed outstanding by his or her peers and by school parents. The nominees will be recognized at a banquet during Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 28-29-Feb. 2.
Among this year’s nominees is Lara Fairchild, a teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne.
Lara Fairchild has served the diocese for 21 years, all of which have been at Bishop Dwenger High School. She currently is teaching both honors chemistry and advanced placement chemistry.
Knowing how hard all the teachers around her work, Fairchild said she feels working at a Catholic school is incredibly humbling.
“Lara teaches with a strong belief to cultivate the drive for the pursuit of excellence in her students,” said principal Jason Schiffli. “She is arguably one of the most devout teachers at Bishop Dwenger.”
Fairchild enjoys the challenging subjects she teaches. She has taught the same subject since she was hired, although she claims, “It is not at all what I would have pictured myself doing when I was younger, but isn’t that how life is?”
According to Schiffli, Fairchild embodies and models the ethos of the Catholic Church. “Her colleagues and students know this and we are grateful for her inspiration.”
Fairchild sees teaching at a Catholic school as her vocation. She feels God is calling her to teach at Bishop Dwenger, she said. This choice has not always proven easy; however, Fairchild believes it is God’s will.
“There have been difficulties through the years, but I always heard God saying, ‘This is where I want you,’” said Fairchild. “My faith is very important to me. I want the students to feel loved and respected in my classroom. I want them to feel that it is a safe haven for them.”
Those around her claim that she never rests. Fairchild has a highly active church and school life, dedicating her Saturdays to work with the Marching Saints pit crew, advocating and sharing her passion for the performing arts. She started working with the band in 2013 alongside her freshman son.
“I enjoy being part of such a great organization, and it allows me to see the students in a different light. Working with the Marching Saints allows me to see students’ gifts and talents that aren’t always evident in the classroom,” said Fairchild.
Fairchild continuously changes her curriculum to improve and maintain rigor. Students describe her as a selfless teacher who is always giving her time. She can be found working with students before and after school to help them with the demanding curriculum.
Realizing that it can be challenging to bring the Catholic faith into a chemistry classroom, Fairchild prays every morning, asking, “Jesus, let the students see You, not me.”
Schiffli believes that Fairchild has built a strong moral foundation that exhibits perseverance, prudence, fortitude and compassion. All are graces he feels are necessary when teaching the brightest students at Bishop Dwenger.
“Lara Fairchild is an awesome role model in and out of the classroom. She is a woman of great character, intelligence, talent, faith and humility.”
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