Above and Beyond
By Megan Moore, Communications intern
Sometimes the job of an educator goes beyond math facts and grammar drills; there are times when the job includes “listening, asking questions and giving advice,” according to S. Katharine Pinto. She would know, having worked in the field of education for 40 years, teaching everyone from kindergarteners to non-English speaking adults. She is currently ministering at Resurrection School in Price Hill (Cincinnati), a school that has had the presence of the Sisters of Charity since 1919.
As a tutor for grades kindergarten through eighth, an auxiliary person for the staff, and an aide with remedial students, Sister is able to sit down with students and provide them with one-on-one attention, a luxury that many students often go without.
S. Katharine compares this ministry to her past ministries in which she often taught an entire classroom: “When I had a whole classroom of students I couldn’t spend as much time with one,” she explains, “you can’t leave the rest of them to their own devices for that length of time. Now I am able to have a 45-minute span of time with one student and we’re able to focus exactly on what that particular student needs whereas when you have an entire class you just can’t. I didn’t have that opportunity in the past so I appreciate that.”
The students at Resurrection who are receiving this one-on-one time with S. Katharine are probably the children who need it most. Sister recognizes that the neighborhood that she tutors in is not necessarily ideal and that the children she works with are not always ready to learn as soon as they sit down with her because there are other things weighing on their minds.
“Most of those students are from low-income families and a lot of their families are not in tact,” she said. “Even though I am there to tutor, sometimes I’m also there to listen to what they need or what they want, or listen to the stories about things that have happened to them. Why they are feeling a certain way on any given day. Some of them come in with so much baggage.”
Although S. Katharine tends to go beyond her duties as a tutor, she never neglects her first and foremost duty: helping the students learn and excel. This is not always an easy task considering she works with kindergarteners, eighth graders, and everyone in between with a range of different subjects. There are times when she will be helping an older student with math that she hasn’t seen or used in a very long time, but S. Katharine believes that will work to the student’s advantage.
“Sometimes showing them that I didn’t know the answer straight away but I was able to find a way to figure it out helps them to see that there’s not always just one way to approach a problem. Sometimes I have to learn along with them or review with them some of the math that I haven’t used in years.”
There are days when she will help a third-grade girl with her math homework; there are days when she will assist an eighth-grade boy with his grammar; and on any given day she could help either or both of them with science. She never knows what task she will be presented. S. Katharine finds strength to do this through the spirit of Elizabeth Seton who is always present in her daily ministry.
“Elizabeth Seton was an educator and she would always tackle what presented itself,” she said. “And I think that can be a big challenge: not knowing exactly what student I’ll be seeing or what they will need help with.”
Anyone can tell that S. Katharine goes beyond her job as tutor and dares to risk a caring response for the children she works with. “Sometimes your heart just aches when you hear those stories and you wish that you could do something more to change a situation in some way, shape or form,” she concludes. “And sometimes you can’t change it for them … You can be there for them.” Luckily S. Katharine is there for them, both to help them with their math facts and to listen to them when they need to be heard.