August 2020

Act of Kindness - @The Brunner Literacy Center

“This may sound trite, but this program really makes a difference. You can see others succeed.”

Pat Maloney '68

The Brunner Literacy Center (BLC) was founded in 2011 by two Sisters of the Precious Blood, Sr. Maryann Bremke and Sr. Helen Weber.

Lifelong educators, both knew that they wanted to use their retirement to advance educational opportunities along the Salem Avenue corridor in northwest Dayton. Sr. Maryann and Sr. Helen sprang into action, working with ample community support to refurbish the former Rex appliance store in Salem Plaza.

Today, the BLC is proud to have served more than 2,000 adults, with more students joining every week. The BLC now operates out of two locations and empowers both tutors and students to meet remotely in public places such as libraries and coffee shops in order to increase community access to educational opportunities.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BLC immediately implemented a fourth avenue for individualized education: distance learning. Students and tutors now work together through video call or over the phone, using myriad academic resources. Distance learning will continue to be offered as an additional program, regardless of social distancing recommendations. As a school co-founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame deNamur, many of our CJ community members have found their way to the BLC.

For Chaminade graduate Pat Maloney ‘68, volunteering with the BLC continues a 40-year career in the field of education with an additional bonus. “This may sound trite, but this program really makes a difference. You can see others succeed.”

Pat talks about his involvement with the STOP program on Gettysburg Avenue where he serves as an intake coordinator for the BLC. “I’m helping to open doors for the low-level offenders who don’t see a future for themselves. For many of them, school was not a positive place and they lack that person in their lives that can ask them where they want to go in the future.”

Pat has watched individuals with a 6th grade education go on to complete a GED and become mechanics, cooks, and gain much confidence along the way. One 60-year old man stated his reason to be at Brunner, “I want to be able to read the Bible.”

Additional assistance from the CJ community:
Jim Brooks, CJ tennis coach and former English teacher
Kateri Dillon ‘12 site coordinator
Anna Meyer Fiorita ‘71
Pat Foley ‘50
Barb Maloney
Pat Maloney ‘68
Kathie (Kathleen) Drummer Menker ‘62, site coordinator
Betty Naughton ‘50
Sandy Ann Prikkel ‘82

 

-- Published on August 7, 2020

Summer Spanish Provides a Safe Return to Campus and a Sense of Normalcy

For the past 13 years, Peg Regan has been teaching Summer Spanish 4 and, much to her delight, this summer was no exception as she had seven students participating in the intensive three-week course.

The students were together for four hours a day for 60 hours of instruction. If that wasn’t rigorous enough, they did so while wearing masks and practicing strict social distancing after undergoing a health screening and temperature check before entering the building.

The “new normal” aside, Regan was thrilled to be back in the classroom.

“Oh my gosh, it’s awesome,” she said. “When I emailed the kids and told them the school was going to let us have the class, they were so glad. They want to be with their friends and they really like having a real person in front of them teaching.”

Regan was also excited to be back in the classroom.

“It’s been great, they’ve been great,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a more motivated group of students.”

Regan’s class is the only that has been held on campus since the statewide closures in March. There has definitely been a learning curve. Partner work has been particularly challenging but with only seven students, social distancing is easier to achieve.

“I told my kids they have to keep nodding or shaking their heads because it’s really hard to tell if they are understanding things without being able to see their faces,” Regan said. “I like to move around a lot when I teach and I have to keep stopping myself.”

Regan hopes her experience will help other teachers as they prepare to return to campus in the coming weeks.

From the student perspective, incoming senior Mandaleigh Taylor was ecstatic to get back on campus and join some of her closest friends for the summer session.

“Spanish class is really great because I take it with two of my closest friends, so it’s been nice to not only see them but to get back in the building and see my teachers and just get back into the school environment,” she said.

Mandaleigh was a bit nervous to return to Spanish class, having not spoken the language in so long, but she said Regan made it incredibly easy for her and her fellow students to get back in the swing of things.

“We’ve been reading and we watch a new movie every week and it’s definitely super interesting,” she said. “ I never thought I could take a class like this because it’s so much work but I really enjoy it and never find myself not wanting to do any part of it.”

The return to a traditional classroom setting helped boost Mandaleigh’s confidence in her ability to speak spanish, motivating her to continue working hard and making her even more excited to, hopefully, return to campus full-time in the fall.

“I’m definitely looking forward to coming back and seeing my friends and my teachers who I’m super close with,” she said. “The thing is, I haven’t seen all of these people most of quarantine so I’m excited to come back and see them.” Mandaleigh noted how excited she was to return to hands-on science labs, an experience she had to forgo in the virtual environment.

After her senior year, Mandaleigh plans to work toward medical school to become a surgeon, but definitely wants to keep spanish in her day-to-day learning so she can experience a semester abroad. She doesn’t have a specific location picked out yet, just the desire to fully immerse herself in a new culture once we’ve worked out our “new normal.”

For teachers and students alike, the safe return to campus provides a sense of normalcy and surrounds them with a support system they’ve missed for so long.

 

-- Published August 8, 2020

#becauseofCJ: Joseph Hangana '11

Young alumni are sharing how they are succeeding after high school in our #becauseofCJ series. Through your gift to the CJ Annual Fund, you make this happen for all students. As you Joseph shares his thoughts on building relationships below, please consider joining others today in supporting the mission of CJ — thank you!

Dear CJ Community,

The other day I was talking to my best friend, who I met at CJ when we were freshman. Fast forward four years and we are not only best friends but are doubles partners on the tennis team. We were at his fiancée’s house (being socially safe). Not only had they first met at CJ, but her parents were there, who also met at CJ — and a family friend there as well who, as you may now guess, also went to CJ. That is when I realized that CJ is truly a one of a kind generational place.

For me, going to CJ was never going to be a question. Both my sister and brother had graduated from there and I had known Mr. Jim Brooks since 5th grade and was determined to play tennis for him one day. The funny thing is that story of wanting to play for Mr. Brooks is such a universal one at CJ, which is truly remarkable, and that most kids had no choice but to go to CJ — in a good way — because it was generational. For most of my friends, most of their siblings had gone to the school and, in some cases, had parents who had gone there and even taught at CJ.

There is something beautiful about the fact that a lot of us have so much shared history that necessarily doesn’t involve us directly in one place. One of my favorite parts about CJ was walking through the first-floor halls and seeing all the pictures of the graduating classes and knowing the history and generations that have passed through there and the generations that will continue to walk those halls. It’s a community like non-other.

CJ was truly home to me for four years and in all honesty will always be home to me. It taught and gave me so much that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to repay it but I guess I just have to try and pay it forward to the next generations who will have the same privilege as I did. It prepared me academically to be able to go on to college at Marquette University and eventually graduate University of Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in International Business and International Studies with a focus on economics and finance.

Without the guidance I got at CJ I am not sure that I would have been as successful, now I work as a market research analyst out of a firm based in Milwaukee, WI helping to serve all of our brokers and partners to give top notch content and market expertise in the United Kingdom and Canadian insurance markets. That love of research came from my academic studies at CJ.

Perhaps the most important thing CJ taught me or gave me was the importance of a relationship. While that might sound so simple, it really is not that straightforward. CJ gave me some of best friendships this world has to offer and they will be with me all my life but those are not the relationships I am referring to. As you go through life, hopefully you will be able to create friendships with your peers through all levels of school, work or random life events.

The relationships I am talking about are the ones that aren’t necessary or the ones that are randomly built. For me that was spending my study hall periods in Mr. Colvin’s class just to talking to him even though he never taught me a single class. I would also conspire with Ms. Muhl to scare Ms. Eichenhauer every day and visit with the other counselors in the guidance office. Ms. Wheeler was my actual counselor, and  I’ll never forget how she would always check in on me senior year to make sure I would get into Marquette. Even now, anytime I go back to CJ to visit, II immediately check in on Ms. Szabo, who was never directly tied to my academics in high school, but was great support. In the totality of my experience there, she was one of the many highlights. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I miss walking those halls, seeing Cali every day and getting to talk to him and pass the time with him. He was one of the most fascinating people at that school and not just a bus driver.

In this life you will meet so many people and come across so many relationships. My advice, which was formed by my formative years at CJ, is try to engage them all. Every single one of them, whether you are at college and there is a lunch person who has the same Thursday shift, or receptionist at the office. Ask them how are they doing and show an interest in their lives. You might not know it then but that relationship might become of your most important relationships you develop at that place.

I still remember Ms. April who was a lunch lady at Marquette. Saying goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I had to do when I left Marquette and transferred to the University of Dayton. The same applies for the aforementioned guidance counselor office at CJ and many more. Sometimes it is more than just the teachers and friends that make a place special and for CJ, the ancillary staff are the reason why those were some of the best four years of my life and a reason I am the person I am today. They taught me how to make relationships that could last a lifetime with people whom you never thought you would. Those relationships can become the relationships that matter most.

I will forever be eternally grateful for CJ, my home. You took a child and gave him the tools and people to succeed in this life. I could not be where I am today without CJ and the great people that go to work there each and every day. You all make a difference in a child’s heart whether you know it or not. You definitely made a mark on this child.

Thank You,
Joseph Hangana, class of 2011

Published August 4, 2020