Explore AOPS

Teacher Spotlight: Strength by Example

1 year ago

MOIRA-IGNITE (13 of 21)_edited

“I knew before she said anything that she was a teacher,” Jason Budd, OCE Chief of Staff, told us about the first time he met Moira Catherine Whalen. “I could tell by her actions and interactions with others — this was a teacher.”

He continued, “and when my thoughts were confirmed, I wasn’t surprised to hear what type of teacher she was — a teacher who worked with students who struggled the most.”

Unexpectedly, Jason did not meet Moira within an AOPS School. Their lives first intersected at a gym, where both were practicing CrossFit, a workout methodology known for grueling routines. Jason was inspired to see Moira completing many exercises he himself described as “torture,” especially since Moira walks (and sprints) with the assistance of two wrist-mounted canes.

“She has a standard of excellence, and she knows what her kids need, and she’s not going to let [any] roadblock stand in the way of that standard.” [She puts herself through painful exercises] to be able to give her students a better effort.” – Jason Budd

Cynthia Koons, Principal at St. Albert the Great School, echoed Jason’s sentiments about Moira’s dedication. “She’s in the resource room two times a day, [helping] children who are one or two grades behind. She’s really fine tuned to seeing what children need and how they learn.”

“Sometimes [students] are a little bit intimidated because she walks differently,” Cynthia continued. “[They] ask a lot of questions, but she answers everything — [her approach] builds a learning community. The children get to be open and see how someone faces adversity in their lives.”

From where does Moira’s strength through adversity come? “Her faith in God is very important to her — she just has this way about her that exudes her faith,” Cynthia said. But the Principal also made sure to underscore the importance Moira’s family has made in her life and, indirectly, the lives of her students. “[Her parents] always said she could do anything, no limitations.”

Cynthia said Moira was an example of someone who had been pushed to go above and beyond — something that is apparent in her person, her classroom, and yes — her workout routine.