New teacher prepares for back to school

By | August 20, 2010

This year Gaier will add “teacher” to her list of Catholic school experiences. She is embarking on her first year as second-grade teacher at St. Nicholas School in Freedom.


Katie Gaier joins the faculty at St. Nicholas School in a full-time position after serving as a substitute teacher. (Kasi Koshollek | For The Compass)

Gaier holds an early education degree from UW–Stout and an elementary education degree from Marion College. A parishioner at St. Pius X in Appleton, Gaier has previously served as a substitute teacher at St. Nicholas. Her experience at the school affirmed her belief in Catholic education.

“Every time I walked through the doors I felt welcome,” she says, “The culture was very warm and inviting.”

A personal favorite memory of attending Catholic school for Gaier is the family-like feeling. This was due, in part, to small class sizes and the support she felt from her teachers not only in education, but in her faith development.

“I have great memories of how some of my teachers inspired me to become the best I could be,” she recalls. Her prayer for this school year is to inspire and motivate her students to their fullest potential.

She is excited to be teaching in a school where she says, “education and faith go hand in hand.” As an educator, Gaier respects the whole child and believes in the importance of a teacher recognizing each and every child’s learning style. She sees this as her responsibility as an educator and maintains the best way to serve each child is to offer a supportive and faith-filled environment.

“I believe if teachers and parents work together it will benefit the child’s learning,” she says. “I think it is fantastic that the daily prayer and lessons at home are reinforced in the Catholic schools.” For these reasons she is grateful to have been given the opportunity to be part of the educational team at St. Nicholas.

A whole-person point of view — including the family and faith of a child — is an important focus of her teaching philosophy. As a second-grade teacher, Gaier will be responsible for incorporating the sacraments into her daily classroom activities.

“I will be very involved in the preparation of first reconciliation and first Communion” says Gaier. “My daughter Amelia received the wonderful sacraments last spring, and I look forward to guiding my second graders and their families with their first Communion and reconciliation in the months to come.”

As for her personal prayer life, Gaier finds volunteer work as a family and alone time to pray important elements in keeping a healthy balance. As a family the Gaiers enjoy volunteering together each year at the St. Pius X parish picnic. Gaier is also passionate about Big Brothers/Big Sisters, where she sits on the board of directors in the Fox Valley. To reenergize, she loves to run. Gaier finds it an excellent opportunity for prayer. She has completed the Boston Marathon twice.

A man of great inspiration to Gaier is author and educator William Arthur Ward, who said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The super teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

As she prepares to make the transition from substitute teacher to teaching second grade full time, Gaier hopes to be an educator who not only inspires, but serves as a real life example of how a Catholic education can be the foundation of a fulfilled and joyful life.

“I am very full of faith,” she says. “I thank God for all of the blessings I have been given throughout my life.”

Gaier counts her life in Catholic education as one of those blessings. A treasured classroom memory as a substitute teacher at St. Nicholas was helping a student with an innocent misunderstanding.

“When are we having our sub sandwiches? I am hungry!” a kindergarten boy asked Gaier.

“Pizza is on the menu for lunch today,” Gaier replied.

“But my Mom said we were having a sub today,” said the student.

It is those little moments that Gaier loves about being a part of the Catholic school family at St. Nicholas.

“I am extremely excited to meet all of my students and their families,” she says. “I am also looking forward to to working with the St. Nicholas staff.”

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