Local Catholic teacher ready to share her faith
Lilianne Stannard has reached the end of a fulfilling but exhausting day with her year 1 students at Holy Spirit Primary School in Nicholls. It is early in term one and the young students are still settling into the school year.
“They were all begging me for nap time,” says Lilianne, who might have been tempted to take one herself except she had a room full of six-year-olds to wrangle. “I had to tell them they weren’t in kinder any more.” Instead, some reading time kept them happy.
Managing the moods and minds of a roomful of young children is a skill Lilianne, now in her third year at Holy Spirit since graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree from Australian Catholic University (ACU), has had to learn, and is still learning.
She is also constantly working on another important aspect of her job – helping her young charges to grow in their own faith. “It’s part of my mission to make the children aware of Jesus and God and the stories in the Bible, but you need to make sure you teach it at their level, in an age-appropriate way.”
Lilianne is keen to introduce the Catholic School Youth Ministry Australia model in her school, along with retreats for young children. She would also like to be a religious education coordinator down the track. First, she plans to keep building on her own faith and understanding.
Her Catholic upbringing and education started that process and she was involved in activities such as running children’s liturgies as a teenager. But the real eye-openers in her faith formation have been the Signum Fidei programs she participated in at ACU and as an early-career teacher last year.
Signum Fidei is a faith formation program for pre-service and early career teachers, as well as youth ministers who work in Catholic schools. Run through ACU in four modules over a year, it emphasises Catholic identity, vocation and mission. Elective in the voluntary program are the annual Youth Ministry Equipping Schools, the Canberra-Goulburn (covering Oceania) version of which was held in Canberra in late February.
Lilianne chose to do the Signum Fidei program as an add-on to her teaching degree and then did a more in-depth version once she started teaching, finding she could then apply her learnings directly to her work. From this year, the program has become an accredited part of Catholic teacher education through ACU.
The two versions of the program (along with the Equipping Schools) offered Lilianne the chance to build and reflect on her own faith, as well as meet like-minded peers and, before COVID interfered, take part in mission camps and outreach experiences.
Signum Fidei National Coordinator Trish McCarthy says 10 students from Canberra (supported by a scholarship in partnership with Canberra Goulburn Catholic Education) are among the 18 from ACU campuses around Australia doing the program this year. Numbers may increase once COVID eases and news of the new accreditation status spreads.
She says the attraction for many participants is “it’s not just about religious education, but formation”. Previous students have been pleasantly surprised by “the sense of community and vibrant expression” they witness. “They gather together in Canberra … and they start to join the dots and realise ‘the stuff I’ve been told and taught all my life is true’.”