Teachers honored for dedication to Catholic education
By Denver Catholic Register
Schools across the Denver Archdiocese are observing Catholic Schools Week from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2. Several teachers in the archdiocese this year are celebrating their milestone anniversaries and many years of commitment to Catholic education. The following are short profiles on some of these educators.
Our Lady of Fatima, Lakewood
When she teaches, Dilia Taylor reminds her students about why they’re there.
“I stress the reason we are all here is to make it to heaven someday,” Taylor said. “That is what I try very hard to instill in the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders that I am so fortunate to teach. Keep your aim to heaven.”
For 47 years—35 years in the Denver Archdiocese and more than 10 in the Denver public school system—Taylor has served as an educator and principal.
The Denver native attended St. Catherine of Siena in Denver and St. Mary’s Academy High School in Englewood before earning a degree from the former Loretto Heights College in Denver. She attended the University of Colorado Boulder for her master’s degree in guidance and counseling.
After marrying and raising two children, Taylor taught at Notre Dame in Denver for 15 years. She was promoted to principal of St. Catherine of Siena and led there for 15 years until her retirement in 2007.
Teaching is engrained in her, she said.
“You get me talking about teaching and kids, I explode,” Taylor said.
She loves teaching children and teenagers, in whom she sees goodness and a desire to be led to the truth.
“When I teach them I can see that goodness comes out,” she said. “They want to do what our Lord wants them to do but it’s hard. They’ve got so many influences around them but it’s hard to get that goal of heaven there.”
Education drew her out of retirement a year later when she was offered a position to teach religion at Our Lady of Fatima School in Lakewood. She’s in her fifth year of teaching there.
“I retired then that first year but I didn’t like retirement,” she said.
At Our Lady of Fatima, she said, she is where the Lord wants her.
“It’s where I want to keep teaching,” Taylor said.
Sacred Heart of Jesus School, Boulder
Education has a special place in Anna-Marie Berger’s heart.
“My entire educational years were with Catholic schools and from the ‘sisters’ of the Jesuits,” she said.
She was part of the largest Catholic school system in Chicago, where she attended school.
“Yet we were all part of the family,” Berger said. “This feeling has carried me through my entire career in education, especially as I teach second-generation families (students of former students).”
Throughout her teaching career, Berger’s philosophy has been to interweave faith with knowledge and to encourage education to continue throughout a child’s lifetime.
Berger graduated from Loyola University in Chicago with a bachelor’s in English. She taught for 13 years in Chicago before coming to Colorado and joining the Sacred Heart of Jesus School staff. Since becoming a teacher at the Boulder school in 1983, Berger has served as librarian and instructs students on study skills.
All Souls School, Englewood
Sue Troxel believes in lifelong learning.
She teaches her students the tools and skills they need to educate themselves throughout life.
“I also believe it is important for them to be culturally literate so that they can become good critical thinkers,” Troxel said.
Troxel attended St. Mary’s Academy in Englewood and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and master’s from the University of Colorado.
From 1972-1976, she was a social studies teacher at Littleton Public Schools. After staying home to raise her two children, she became a teacher at All Souls School in 1983.
“I enjoy teaching middle school and seeing my students grow into young adults,” she said. “Their enthusiasm is contagious and makes my job exciting from day to day.”
All Souls School, Englewood
Mary Ernst is celebrating her 30-year anniversary of teaching in Catholic schools, which she believes provides children the basis to develop academically, emotionally and spiritually.
“A strong foundation at the early levels is key to future success in school and life,” she said.
Ernst grew up in Aurora and attended St. Pius X School in Aurora and Marycrest High School. She then attended Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where she earned bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and philosophy.
Her entire teaching career has been at All Souls School in Englewood. Ernst originally taught fifth grade but for 28 years she has taught third grade.
Her favorite thing to teach is cross-curricular projects, because she believes they show how all knowledge is interrelated and imitates real-life situations.