Annual Maryland event prepares educators to foster spiritual growth of students


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Denver, Colo., Aug 28, 2023 / 13:45 pm (CNA).

John Kish never pictured himself becoming a teacher. He studied philosophy in college, but after graduating he was invited to attend a conference that inspired him to teach.

“I felt that call really in my bones, like ‘You’re made to teach and this is something truly noble to give yourself to,’” Kish, a teacher at St. Benedict’s Classical Academy in Natick, Massachusetts, said in an interview with “EWTN News In Depth” on Aug. 25.

The Teaching Vocation Conference hosted by The Heights Forum, an annual event held in Potomac, Maryland, is designed for men exploring professions as educators and provides a glimpse into the culture at The Heights School.

“When I saw what The Heights men were doing with teaching, when I saw the love that they had for their students, the love for this vocation as really molding people into being the best that they can be to lead them closer to God — I fell in love,” he shared.

Before the start of the school year, Kish went back to The Heights School for a conference on the importance of mentoring.

Alvaro de Vicente, the headmaster of The Heights School for more than 20 years, described mentoring as “conveying what it means to be a Christian gentleman and how would a Christian man deal with those situations.”

De Vicente explained that the conference on mentoring is an opportunity for educators to learn how to serve as life coaches for their students. Some of the discussions included developing rapport and trust with mentees, fostering their mentees’ spiritual growth, and fostering difficult conversations.

As headmaster of an all-boys school, de Vicente said, “one of the challenges that we have in education is that we try to treat boys as if they were little kids but we judge them as if they were grown-ups.”

“I think we just tend to forget the mistakes that we made at their age,” he added. “So, we tried to reverse that and treat them as grown-ups, put more responsibilities on them, pull them up by the way that we deal with them but then judge them as boys.”

De Vicente shared that he believes the most important thing to do to prepare for a good school year is to “get the faculty back together and remind each other why we’re here.”

“As a teacher, once you know why you do what you do and appreciate the importance of it, you’re going to be so much more motivated.”

Andy Perez-Benzo, a father of three and board member of The Hawthorn School in Bedford, New York, attended the mentoring conference in hopes of bringing this culture back to his school.

“The Hawthorn School began as a project of several families in the New York City area. These were families that wanted not only a high-caliber education for their children but the formation of their character as well,” he explained.

Perez-Benzo added: “Mentoring is one of the key ways that you can form the soul of a young man or a young woman and bring it to maturity so that the person can flourish in society as a mother, as a father, as a professional.”

The Hawthorn School is going into its second year but Perez-Benzo said it is thriving and wants students to learn how to live a life rooted in faith.

“If we really believe that our faith is at the core of our own being then we’re going to be able to transmit the most important truths to a younger generation,” he shared.

View the entire “EWTN News In Depth” segment on the Teaching Vocation Conference below.

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