A teacher of the year finalist is multi-talented, knows what she teaches, and admits that she’s learned a thing or two from her students.
All of these traits can be used to describe Tuerlings Catholic teacher and 2019 LEF Teacher Award Finalist Cathryn Martin.
During her senior year as a sociology major in college, Martin recalls subbing at her old high school where the principal surprised her and offered her a contract to teach.
“I said, ‘Really? REALLY?’ she said, ‘no, I really believe this is what you’re called to do,'” says Martin. “And I haven’t looked back. I love every minute of it.”
Through her twenty-two years as a teacher, four in Hammond and eighteen at Teurlings, Martin is well aware of the daily and yearly hurdles she must face in the classroom.
“I think the biggest challenge is you have different students from year to year,” she says. “And they have different strengths, different weaknesses, and different interests.”
But still, it’s these ever-changing students, those wonderfully unique students, that keep her getting up and going back to teach each and every day.
“There’s not a single day that goes by that they don’t make me laugh or make me smile,” says Martin. “It doesn’t matter the mood I’m in.”
It can be a thankless job at times, but Martin says those ‘why am I here moments’ can be replaced in a flash when a student suddenly says, ‘Ah-hah, I get it!”
Martin says that these moments of clarity are where she gets her energy.
“I enjoy, in the middle of class, when you’re having a discussion or a lecture and you can see the wheels spinning,” she says. “You can see they’re really thinking about what we’re talking about but they’re thinking about it in a different perspective.
Martin has been a finalist before. But that doesn’t diminish the level of humility she feels that someone out there said, ‘Cathyrn Martin has changed my life.’
“That a student felt enough, that they cared enough, that they took time out of the day to write a letter. That’s incredible, it really is.”
Cathryn Martin is a strong advocate for her profession. So much so, that this teacher of the year finalist offers these words of wisdom to anyone even considering that the world of education just might be for them.
“Definitely go for it! No regrets.”