Terrie Fitzgerald has been teaching at St. Joseph School in Upland, for 13 years. She started as a teacher’s aid for kindergarten and first grade and then as Director of Extended School Care, then left to get her teaching credential before returning to the school to teach second grade.
As part of our series on Catholic school teachers in the Diocese, Fitzgerald sat down with the BYTE to tell us a little about herself and her life as a teacher at St. Joseph.
BYTE: What drew you to teaching in the first place – was it something that you always wanted to do growing up?
Fitzgerald: I’ve always been a teacher, ever since I had my daughter, I’ve been a teacher. I’ve always been involved, always been a teacher at heart. I wanted to return to school, and I returned to school when my youngest was in kinder.
BYTE: What do you enjoy about teaching specifically?
Fitzgerald: My favorite thing to do is read to the kids; I love reading literature. I love teaching the sacraments. And being in the classroom keeps me present; the kids keep me present. They humble me.
BYTE: What have been some challenges that you’ve had to face while teaching over the years?
Fitzgerald: COVID was a challenge but it was an area that I grew tremendously as far as technology. I thrived during COVID, I think our whole school did. As a person, as an individual, it was challenging, but it was an area that I grew tremendously. But I was jumping for joy when we came back, because kids need to be in the classroom.
BYTE: What do you like about teaching at a Catholic school?
Fitzgerald: I love being able to share my faith journey ... My faith journey has really strengthened especially teaching the children, I love walking alongside them and their faith journey. I think it helps, with my students being in second grade, helps me keep it simple.
BYTE: How do you implement the faith in the classroom?
Fitzgerald: It’s in everything that we do. It’s integrated into every subject area. We start our day reading a devotional called “Jesus Calling,” and the kids love it. So we start every day in the Word. But it’s integrated into every subject area in second grade.
BYTE: And now just to get to know you a little bit: what do you like to do in your free time when you’re not teaching?
Fitzgerald: Well, I work out every day ... I love Dodgers, so we go to Dodgers games and I really love golfing. I golf a lot.
BYTE: Do you have a favorite saint or Bible verse that you want to share?
Fitzgerald: I do have a favorite Bible verse, it’s Romans 8:28. “God works all things out for the good for those called according to his purpose.” The kids know it, too. They know that’s my favorite Bible verse.
BYTE: Is there anything else you wanted to add?
Fitzgerald: Just that I love working at St. Joseph’s School. It’s like being home. You know, my kids all went to school here and they have a love for St. Joe’s. I love that alumni come back and visit us often. I just feel like we’re very accepting of everyone. And I really do feel like we live out Jesus’s mission.