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Best of the Week 2018-2019: Teaching to the Future


To empower St. Ed's faculty to come up with new, enriching programming ideas for our Edsmen this coming spring, St. Ed's launched The Porter Prize Competition, similar to the reality television show "Shark Tank." Through this competition, all departments were given the opportunity to make a pitch for a $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 infusion of money to their department's budget. The Porter Prize Competition, named after St. Andre Bessette who worked as a porter at Notre Dame College in Côte-des-Neiges, Quebec, allowed departments to pitch their ideas for a new student-enrichment experience to a panel of guest judges including Dr. Frank O'Linn '93 (pictured far left), Associate Superintendent for secondary schools in the Office of Catechetical Formation and Education for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, Mr. Brian Sinchak (pictured far right), President of Lakewood Catholic Academy, and current student Teon Smith '19 (pictured second from left). Each department gave a five-minute presentation describing the purpose of their idea, explaining why their idea would offer a unique and meaningful experience for students, discussing which students would directly benefit from this experience and assessing how this experience will measure student knowledge and growth.

"Our hope was for the competition to allow our faculty to open more figurative doors for our students, who we constantly strive to bring new and useful experiences to day in and day out," says Film Department Chair and Director of Innovation Mr. Nick Kuhar, who came up with the idea for The Porter Prize Competition. "I think this event gave our faculty the opportunity to empower themselves and to practice the entrepreneurial mindset that we're accelerating amongst our student body." Congratulations to the Theology Department ($1,000 prize winner), the English Department ($2,000 prize winner) and the Engineering Department ($3,000 prize winner) who are the first winners of The Porter Prize Competition.

The Engineering Department pitched the idea to build a working model of the MVP Football Tackling Dummy, "The 13th Man." The purpose of recreating "The 13th Man" serves to help both football and rugby players reduce the potential for concussions from man-to-man contact in practice while still providing a realistic tackling environment. "This idea incorporates many things our school excels at such as our robotics program, engineering classes, football and rugby programs," says Engineering and Mathematics teacher Mr. JC Froelich '08 (pictured second from right). "This has been an idea in our department for a few months now, but we could not justify the cost in our budget for such a project. The Porter Prize Competition was the perfect opportunity to find a way to connect engineering students with athletics and athletes with engineering opportunities. Our enrichment experience will allow students of all different backgrounds and interests to better understand the inner workings of robotics and engineering. It is the hope that students come away with a passion for utilizing engineering in the field they are passionate about."

Presented by English faculty members Mr. Elliot Zetzer (pictured center) and Ms. Lydia Munnell (pictured third from right), the English Department pitched the idea to host a literary reading series at St. Ed's, which will invite writers to read and speak to our Edsmen. "One of the questions we've all grappled with this year is, 'What does it mean to be innovative?' For the English Department, it means finding a way to create a culture wherein books and reading are cool. Students have a mentality that books are a thing of the past, but books are written today to and for us," says Ms. Munnell. This literary series, while partnering with other local reading series, will capitalize on our region's plethora of renowned poets, essayists and fiction writers, bringing one writer per quarter to speak to the St. Ed's community. "We are always on the lookout for opportunities to bring literature to life at St. Edward High School," says Mr. Zetzer. "We hypothesize that meeting real, living writers will reinforce an important innovative principle: that if books are written all the time in places just like this, we could be the ones writing them. The literary world is not a relic of the past; instead, the literary world continues to grow, breathe and change, and our students are invited to join in its development."

The Theology Department pitched a three-tiered idea that includes creating a webpage where members of the St. Ed's community can submit petitions so that the school can pray for them, creating a mural on St. Ed's campus that tells the story of the Congregation of Holy Cross to illustrate its history, identity and global mission, and purchasing a GoPro Fusion VR Camera so that students can film and narrate their out-of-school experiences, service opportunities and retreats both in the community and abroad. "Since the Congregation of Holy Cross education is meant not to confine students to the bounds of the school but to inspire them to minister to the needs of the world, the Theology Department wanted students to engage in tangible activities that would unveil the deeper reality of our Holy Cross heritage and expound their sense of place in the world that St. Ed's both resides in and is called to minister," says Theology teacher Mr. John Barrett '11 (pictured third from left). "We hope that students will learn that while excellence might be tangibly recognized through accomplishments, it derives from the Holy Cross proclamation to 'go forth with zeal to make God known, loved, and served.'"

"The entire competition was a cool opportunity to hear ideas from other departments," says Ms. Munnell. "It's pretty easy, as a teacher, to feel stuck in your own silo: your subject area, your classes, your ideas. I am always grateful for the reminder that so many of our teachers and departments are fastidiously working to improve their approach." St. Ed's hopes the impact of this year's competition will lead to future funding in order to continue The Porter Prize Competition as an annual event for faculty members and students.

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