In sixth grade someone placed the book Enemy Brothers in Mattie Butaud’s hands. She didn’t know how much she would love that book, or that she would read it over and over.
Now, ten years later, she had returned home to Providence—to that same sixth grade classroom. This time, though, she was here in a teaching apprenticeship and the students had just finished reading that same book. She wrapped up the discussion and noticed a raised hand.
“Miss Butaud, where can I buy this book?”
As student after student expressed a desire to revisit the story on their own, Mattie realized something special had transpired. Her personal enjoyment of a book had replicated, and now stared back at her in these young faces. Here, in Mrs. Kniss’ classroom, a love for learning had ignited.
Last year Mattie Butaud ‘10, a junior at Hillsdale College (Michigan), spent two trimesters home at Providence as part of a teaching apprenticeship. She focused her time in the sixth grade classroom with Mrs. Alice Kniss, where in addition to reading Enemy Brothers with the students, she observed lessons, graded papers and prepared projects. She also taught science. Since science is “structured already with textbook readings and questions,” she noted “it was an easy subject to jump into.”
In addition to her time with the sixth grade, Mattie observed other classes. This broadened her experience and introduced her to a variety of teaching styles and age groups.
Mattie plans to travel and teach after she graduates in the spring of 2014. She has contacts at several classical Christian schools and wants “to do a year or two teaching internationally with some kind of mission work alongside the teaching.” Eventually, she hopes to return to the Northwest and teach at a local classical school.
Kathryn England always loved to sing. Learning piano didn’t come as readily, but today she is thankful for a mother who encouraged her to persevere. It was in high school at Providence that her love for music deepened. Mr. Herb, her music teacher, rarely chose simple pieces for the class. At times the challenges were daunting. Week by week they practiced and when concert night arrived, the results surprised and delighted her. They made beautiful music. Experiences like these spurred Kathryn to choose music as her college major and come home for a teaching apprenticeship at Providence.
On Mondays last year, Kathryn England Lacalli ’09 observed and assisted Mr. Jordan Doolittle. She prepared lessons and supported him in everyday tasks. Through the small assignments, she saw students progress toward larger goals. Class time also put her in the front-row of music where she watched a teacher interact with many personalities and abilities. Kathryn said, “Watching Mr. Doolittle is like watching a father with his own kids. He relates so well to all the different ages.”
Fridays she observed grammar school students in Mrs. Kandice Wartes’ class. Since these kids were younger, the room had a different tone than Mr. Doolittle’s. “There were a lot of games the students played, yet at the same time Mrs. Wartes accomplished a lot,” Kathryn noted.
Kathryn completed her college degree last winter with her apprenticeship credits. Her experience at Providence also confirmed a suspicion that she would prefer teaching an assortment of subjects over committing to just one. After she realized this, she took a student-teaching position last spring with Miss Salios’ second grade.
Kathryn’s mom, grammar school principal Kitty England, was pleased to have both Kathryn and Mattie back. When asked about the apprenticeships she said, “We are so blessed to have some of our graduates interested in teaching. Our hope is that someday past graduates will teach at our school.”
Sometimes life’s road leads us back to first loves and the moments that shaped and launched us into a deeper desire to learn. Those days of discovery are different for each of us. They came full circle for Mattie when she read Enemy Brothers again and saw her own joy mirrored in the students. Katherine England’s love for music developed into a journey that fine-tuned her future goals. Though both paths have been unique, Mattie and Katherine have this in common—at least for a time, moving forward meant coming home to Providence.
-Published in Terra Firma, Winter 2014