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Featur e



ister Mary Ann Mehling, I.H.M., has been working at Gilmour for the past 11 years and has been a Catholic educator for 51 years! She is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a teaching order based in Monroe, Mich. She has taught religion at both the Middle and Upper School levels and doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. She loves the students too much, she says. “They are just the nicest kids here.” Sister Mary Ann coordinates the service program. With every student required to complete 60 hours of service and a written reflection on the experience, overseeing it is no small task. Sister maintains a list of approved organizations for which the students may volunteer and also hosts a service fair so that students can meet representatives from the various agencies looking for volunteers. In addition to their required service hours, each grade level completes a specific service day; this year freshmen volunteered at the Cleveland Foodbank, sophomores tutored at area schools, juniors completed Urban Plunge and seniors did Senior Service Day. Additionally, Sister Mary Ann teaches a social justice course to juniors. As part of the religion course requirement, the students complete a Praxis project. This innovative project is the embodiment of the Academy’s mission “to develop the competence to see and the courage to act in creating a more humane and just society.”

Sister and another religious studies instructor assign students to groups that focus on a specific topic such as sustainable agriculture, poverty in education, housing issues, human trafficking, sustainable communities and models of development. Each group must research its topic, examining what the Church teaches about it; how it impacts the local, national and international communities; and determining the root causes of the problem. Then the students arrange to interview someone about his/her work as it pertains to the group’s topic. Next, the group proposes and executes an action response (typically a three-hour service project) that examines the issue or its root causes and the possible impact a group of students can have. Finally, the student groups present a case study/film to their classmates that explains the issue and responds to it in a manner that is theologically sound and reflective of Cleveland’s situation. Gilmour is fortunate to have Sister Mary Ann inspiring students to give back. As students learn more about their faith through their religion classes, the service opportunities allow them to put that faith into action. In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, a national weekly Catholic newspaper, Sister Mary Ann spoke of how student service has affected her. “I have become more aware that we can’t say ‘I’m too old,’ or ‘I’ve done my share.’ We are called to keep making the world better. So many people need somebody to be there for them.” The Academy is certainly better because of Sister Mary Ann Mehling.

Gilmour Academy Magazine Spring/Summer 2012  
Gilmour Academy Magazine Spring/Summer 2012  

Gilmour Academy Magazine Spring/Summer 2012