Growing faith-filled education
While overall teacher shortages have troubled public schools in the U.S. for more than a decade, Catholic schools have faced an even greater hurdle — finding high-quality, faith-filled teachers dedicated to the value of a Catholic education. To this challenge, the University of Dayton saw a solution.
UD launched the Lalanne program in 1999 with the purpose of strengthening Catholic education locally. For more than two decades, UD Lalanne has supported beginning Catholic school educators through mentored teaching experiences and intentional faith communities.
In the program, named in honor of Marianist Brother Father Jean Baptiste Lalanne, education students start teaching in under-resourced Catholic schools for two years, take classes over the summer to earn a master’s degree in education from the University of Dayton and develop relationships with the Catholic communities in which they live and teach.
“The most important work this program does is raising up faith-filled Catholic school teachers,” said Peggy Brun, director of UD Lalanne. “These teachers, young teachers, just come alive.”
To date, UD Lalanne has graduated 227 faithful, excited new Catholic school teachers.
Based out of UD’s Center for Catholic Education, Lalanne began with one community in Dayton and has spread across Ohio with other communities in Dayton, as well as in Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Lalanne expanded its program to St. Mary School in Charlotte, Michigan, in 2012 when the school had low enrollment of just 68 students.
In part because of the success of Lalanne and the school’s Catholic leadership, the school has since been able to add both seventh and eighth grade classes, with enrollment now surpassing 130 students, plus a waitlist of families wanting to enroll.
St. Mary’s Principal Amanda Wildern said that not only has the growth and interest in the school been motivating, but she also has been thrilled with the quality of teachers the Lalanne program has brought to the campus.
“It's fun to have this young group of teachers bring a different kind of spirit to the atmosphere of the school; they have tons of energy,” she said.
Lalanne teachers receive support and feedback from mentors, staff, alumni and other Lalanne teachers. Perhaps most influential, Wildern said, are the young students with whom they share their faith.
“Our students at St. Mary's have the opportunity to witness adults living their faith — the opportunity to see young individuals [teachers] who are loving their faith and living it in service,” Wildern said.
Brun agreed, “The most fun I have is when I get to see these teachers in their classrooms — just to see their confidence and their passion and their willingness to share their faith, not only with each other in their communities, but then with their students.”
The growth this program allows for is unmistakable, said Brun, and the deepened confidence in these young teachers is palpable.
Applications are currently being accepted for the 2022-23 cohort of Lalanne. The application can be found at: go.udayton.education/lalanne.