Get to Know Our Teachers

Meet First Grade Teacher Julie Mitchell

Our teachers are the foundation of our school. But how much do you know about our BTA staff? We want to take this opportunity for you to get to know some of the people on our BTA staff. We are starting off with First Grade teacher, Julie Mitchell.

BTA: Why did you choose to work in Catholic education?

I love being able to help students grow in their own faith journey and share God’s love with them as we learn.

BTA: What motivated you to become a teacher?

I always enjoyed being in school and learning new things.  I really wanted to teach children how to do the same.

BTA: Who was your most influential teacher growing up and why?

My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Stucka.  She was just a “fun” teacher.  She would tell us jokes, sing us songs, even make voices as she read.  She encouraged me to try new things, even if it was difficult.  She taught me how to learn from mistakes.

BTA: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy the connections I make with students while they’re in my room, but continue after they leave it

BTA: What is the most important life lesson you want you students to get out of your class?

I want students to become more observant to the world around them and never stop learning.

BTA: What was your favorite book as a child?

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

BTA: What is your favorite book now?

Bridge to Terabithia – I love teaching it and having my class enjoy it as much as I did.

BTA: What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of school?

Outside of school, I enjoy watching my kids, Erika and Kaylie, participate in sports.  I like to walk to get some exercise, social time, and just to clear my mind.

BTA: What are you looking forward to most this year?

I’m really just looking forward to being able to stay in school and be with all the students and teachers again.  I’m excited to be teaching first grade and continue fostering and growing their minds.  I hope I can keep them on track to enjoy school and be active learners as they continue their journey through school.

The Endless Summer Finally Comes to an End

As children head back to school over the next few weeks after an extended absence from their classrooms, there is a certain amount of anxiety and excitement from parents, students and teachers. Students are excited about seeing friends they haven’t seen for months but nervous that they may have forgotten their academics from last year. Parents are excited to have their children on a real schedule and create structure in their households, but are concerned about masks, social distancing, and if another possible shut down is coming. And teachers are excited to be back in their classrooms where they can be most effective, but concerned about implementing all of the safety protocols, providing a solid learning experience with students unable to leave their desks as well as making sure that students who will be tuning in virtually are taken care of too. It is a lot of different emotions for everyone.

To help prepare for the return to school, we have asked our BTA teachers to give both students and parents some advice to prepare for a very unconventional start to the school year. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Practice wearing masks. All students are being asked to wear their masks throughout the day even while at desks so it is important that students get used to having them on for extended periods of time. And always bring a smile:)—- Mrs. Bridgeman, Kindergarten
  2. Be patient and ready for anything. As we found out last year, things can change pretty quickly so it is important for parents and their children to come with a flexible attitude.—– Mrs. Mitchell, 1st Grade
  3. Always say your prayers. Be kind to one another. And don’t stress about this year. We are all in this together.— Mrs. Heasley, 2nd Grade
  4. Everyone needs to take a deep breath everyday. Parents- don’t worry, your children will be taken care of.—- Ms. McKaveney, 3rd Grade
  5.  At the start of each school year I encourage the students to have a positive attitude. It’s important to give things a try.  You can always ask for help or try a different way,and don’t forget you have Jesus at your side. This year “being positive” is just what is needed as we will be implementing new procedures for safety and social distancing. It will also be important to have a positive attitude while learning new ways of doing work through Google Classroom. I keep thinking of a featured song in “Willy Wonka,Jr.” which was to be our spring musical last year and, if all goes well, will be our spring musical this year. The song is called “Think Positive” and one line says “Whenever I’m feeling down and out and don’t know what to do, I never give way to fear and doubt, cos thinking positive sees me through!” So to all families and students of fourth grade, “We got this!” as we “Think Positive!”—- Mrs. Cross, 4th Grade
  6. Try to stay calm and remember things will work out. — Mr. Tinnemeyer, 5th Grade
  7. Get everyone to bed on time. During the summer children aren’t always on a schedule, which is understandable. Proper rest is essential for a healthy and productive school year. Help your kids get back on track sleep wise by having them go to bed earlier and wake up earlier a week in advance of when school actually starts.— Mrs. Grana, Middle School Social Studies
  8. Stay organized! This is for parents and students. Since things can change so quickly, it is important that every family has a method of organization that works for them.—- Mrs. Rice, Middle School Language Arts
  9. Think of this of a time of innovation! Think outside of the box! Teachers will be trying different projects and teaching methods and will be asking for creativity from their students too.—- Miss Bucha, Middle School Science and STEM
  10. Be Awesome! And stay on top of your assignments!—- Mr. Wesolowski, Middle School Math
  11. Have an open mind. Teachers are trying their hardest.—- Miss Chadran, St. Anthony’s Program K-4th Grade

At BTA, we wish all families a safe and productive return to school. We can’t wait to see what the year brings!

A Catholic School Calling

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” 1 Corinthians 7:17

Have you ever considered what God is calling you to do?  I remember sitting in church as a young child listening to our priest talk endlessly about listening to what God’s is calling you to do in your life.  But in those days, our parish priest usually framed it as a way to speak about being called to the priesthood or to be a nun.  At age 10 or 11, I had little interest in really thinking about God’s calling in my life as I was pretty sure a life in the clergy was not in my future.  

However, as I grew older and started attending mass not just because it was what was expected, but because I was looking for more guidance, the idea of a calling didn’t seem so foreign.

Flash forward a few decades later and I have realized that God’s calling comes to us in many different ways and I would soon discover mine would be found in the halls of our children’s Catholic school.  When we first sent our children to Catholic school, I never envisioned us staying more than a year or two.  We live in a very good public school district and I was basically looking for an all day kindergarten program until we headed to public school in 1st grade.  However, after our first year with my older child, our perspective changed.  We loved our little Catholic school’s community with teachers that were truly invested in educating our children not just academically but also spiritually.  We loved the morals and values that were continually reinforced on a daily basis.  We loved the kindness that was found in halls. There were so many amazing things that were happening in the halls of this school that we found it impossible to leave. The next thing we knew we had committed to sending our children to Catholic school which was a surprising turn of events.  

When we made the commitment to Catholic school, I felt the need to slowly get involved in our child’s school.  I thought it would be a good way to meet parents and make some new friends.  It started slowly by volunteering to be a homeroom parent.  By the end of the year, I was asked to be on our school’s PTG (Parent-Teacher Guild) as the treasurer.  It was billed to me as keeping track of receipts and writing checks (HA!).  I fell for that one pretty easily and said yes.  How hard could it be?  But that role quickly turned into being our PTG president and I started helping to organize school fundraisers.  All of the sudden I was volunteering to give tours and organize open houses.  It was amazing how in that one year, my life took a totally different, unexpected turn.  

During this time, our school was undergoing a lot of changes and we found out that a merger was in our future. I was the first person to volunteer to be a part of the process.  It was stressful and time consuming, but I felt it was important to help in whatever way I could to preserve and continue the tradition of Catholic education for my children and all of the families who were so committed to seeing it succeed.  I remember sitting in my best friend’s kitchen during this time, talking to her about all of the problems we were facing and how difficult this journey was.  I really wanted to give up and be one of those people who just puts their kids on the bus and has no clue what is going on in their school.  It would be so much easier and less stressful.  But she said to me, “Meredith, this is what God is calling you to do.”  And that hit me like a ton of bricks. Ironically, during this time I had also been attending mass and listening to Fr. Tim Whalen speak about finding what God is calling you to do.  One Sunday at mass, he spoke at length about finding your calling in the least expected places and how you have to listen to God and not ignore what He is trying to tell you.

I thought, “Is this it?  Is this what God is calling me to do?” and very quickly, realized that it was. There was a high power leading me in this direction. This is how my desire to volunteer as a homeroom parent has resulted in my job as the Director of Admissions and Marketing at Blessed Trinity Academy. 

Although the journey has not been easy and presented unbelievable challenges over the last 6 years, it has been amazing to see how God mysteriously works in my life.  It has been fulfilling in ways I can’t describe and offered so many rewarding experiences especially because I know I am fighting for something much larger than I am.  I have made friends in unexpected places, worked with so many committed teachers, parents, and administrators and been led on the most unexpected, yet fulfilling journey.

So as we begin this new school year, I want to challenge you to listen to what God is calling you to do in your child’s school and in your larger community.  Could you volunteer more in your community or parish?  Do you have something to offer your child’s or grandchild’s school? Could you sell raffle tickets for a fundraiser that supports your school?  Could you volunteer to be on a committee or coach a team? Could you chaperone a field trip? Do you have a special interest or skill that could be a part of a club at school?  Your calling does not need to come in the form of a new job.  It can be small.  But do not be afraid to listen.  There are so many ways to find what God is calling you to do.  They may not seem like a big deal, but in the end they can make a big  impact on the people around you.  

Meredith Kandravy, Director of Admissions and Marketing at Blessed Trinity Academy

Summer Reading- It’s Never Too Late to Start

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”  Marcel Proust

According to the American Library Association, summer reading programs encourage students to develop a lifelong habit of reading.  Reading over the summer helps students keep their skills sharp and generates interest in books and the library.  Even reluctant readers can be drawn into reading over the summer by reading books they choose and at their leisure. 

Here at BTA, we know the importance of summer reading and encourage all of our students to do so.  When students participate in summer reading, they avoid the “summer slide,” the loss of academic skills that occurs when school is not in session which is attributed largely to the lack of reading.  Students in Grades 4 – 8 receive guidelines from their teachers in regards to reading, but are urged to read above and beyond the requirements.

A great way to encourage summer reading at your school is to offer an incentive program.  At BTA we participate in the Scholastic Summer Read-A-Palooza, which allows students a way to track their minutes.  Last year our students read over 72,000 minutes!   The Scholastic program unites students and communities nationwide virtually to keep track of books that they’re reading.  Students track their reading streaks and earn virtual rewards and unlock book donations, with the goal of Scholastic donating 100,000 books.  Some of the incentives BTA has offered are dress down days, bookmarks, a free ice cream at lunch, and a raffle to win an Amazon Kindle.  

There is still time to encourage your children to read this summer.  If you are looking for some grade level appropriate book selections for your 4th through 8th grade child, check out some of the titles our BTA students are reading this summer.

By Julie Mitchell

Blessed Trinity Academy 1st Grade Teacher

4th Grade Reading List

5th Grade Reading List

6th Grade Reading List

7th Grade Reading List

8th Grade Reading List

A New Journey Begins

As the Principal of Blessed Trinity Academy, I would like to welcome you to our blog, Catholic School Classrooms At Work. We want to share with you about the benefits of attending a Catholic school in this ever-changing world. This is a place where traditions and innovative curriculum are integrated into a faith-based education. Academic standards are high, as well as a value placed on respect for and service to others. 

I have been an educational leader for over 20 years and just completed my first year as a Catholic school principal. This opportunity has given me a chance to reflect on how my own Catholic school experiences have influenced my journey in teaching and leading over the past 20 years. My Catholic teachers and teachings influenced my work within school communities. Creating this environment is intentional—creating joy in learning, with the gratitude of God and the teachings of Jesus. Creating space for student voice in learning and the celebration of Catholic traditions. And creating opportunities for students to apply the teachings of Christ in their daily life—in communion with each other and reaching out to assist and advocate for those in need.       

We want to share with the greater Pittsburgh community about our passionate and dedicated teachers, who not only facilitate learning to meet the needs of the whole child, but also are strong role models, who live out their Catholic values in their everyday actions.

We will talk about what it means to be a part of a faith-based school and how we create a sense of community. Our families engage in athletics, fellowship, friendship, and service. 

We want interested families to know that affording Catholic education is within reach.

We are a place where kids thrive! We respect the individuality of each child while allowing them to develop their God-given talents.   

Learn more about exciting opportunities for kids at Catholic Schools. 

Mrs. Moira Regan Edmiston, Principal of Blessed Trinity Academy