Spotlight on Pre-K 3 Teacher Diomara Perez

December 25, 2015

For the weeks leading up to the Papal Visit, Ms. Perez’s PreK-3 classroom was used to hold press conferences and broadcast nationally televised interviews. It was also transformed into a space where the third and fourth grade students would present their diagrams to Pope Francis. Perhaps most exciting was that Ms. Perez was selected as the teacher that would accompany the six OLQA students when they met the Holy Father. “Honestly, I couldn’t believe it,” said Ms. Perez. “I felt very humbled and honored to be chosen.” Ms. Perez, who has been a teacher at OLQA for 5 years, demonstrated her enthusiasm for Catholic schools and early childhood education in the weeks leading up to the pope’s visit. “Although my kiddos are three years old, I really feel like they are capable of learning how to care for all of God’s creation.” To prepare her students for the visit, Perez led lessons and
activities on stewardship, recycling, and conservation with her PreK-3 class. All of Ms. Perez’s hard work and preparation paid off . “When Pope Francis entered the classroom there was a sense of peace. All of cameras and people taking pictures disappeared. It was just him and us,” said Ms. Perez. The experience of meeting the Holy Father impacted Ms. Perez in many ways. “Pope Francis’ visit has reminded all of us that teaching is a testament to the Catholic faith; it is where you can live and teach the faith.” Throughout the school year, Ms. Perez and all of our teachers will continue to live out their faith in their words, actions, and in the love each teacher brings to their work at OLQA.

This fall has been an incredible time for OLQA and our extended community. As many of you know, Pope Francis visited OLQA on September 25, 2015. The visit was part of his historic first tour to the United States. Needless to say, this was an unusual--yet exciting--start to the school year! At the same time we welcomed 296 students back to school we also welcomed media teams and broadcasting crews to campus.

The uniqueness of this beginning of the year aside, the school year started seamlessly. Our students, faculty, and staff were determined to share in the joy of this visit, while ensuring that the school year got off on the right foot. With the help of Partnership Superintendent Kathleen Porter-Magee, we rolled out a school culture plan that includes procedures and guidelines that make the school day run more smoothly. A familiar face that transitioned into a new role is middle school social studies teacher, Will Beller, who accepted the position of Academic Dean. As Academic Dean, Mr. Beller will provide instructional feedback to teachers and serve as another layer of support to our school team.  

Pope Francis’ visit was a blessing that will stay with us for years to come. Our students and staff were magnificent. This visit highlighted the beauty of Catholic education and the spirit of OLQA. At OLQA we seek to do well and to do good in all aspects of school life. We instill this calling within our students and are confident that our students will go on to lead extraordinary lives.

As we look toward 2015, we are grateful to have many partners in our mission to provide educational opportunity for the children of East Harlem. We are excited to share this year with you and look forward to seeing you soon.