The jump from student teacher to running your own classroom is one of the hardest things for new teachers, according to Allison Dudek, second-year graduate student.
“It’s empowering, but you’re worried if you have the qualifications to do this,” Dudek said.
The Lalanne program attempts to alleviate that hurdle through service. Through the Center for Catholic Education, the Lalanne program sends beginning teachers to underserved Catholic schools, both in the area and beyond.
“It’s a really unique program that provides the opportunity to begin your teaching career in a Catholic school while living in community with other teachers,” said Jacinta Mergler, director of the Lalanne program. “They get extra mentoring from the program staff, colleagues and from each other.”
Mergler and the program’s coordinator, Peggy Brun, travel to visit the teachers twice a year and observe their classrooms to offer tips for improvement.
The program was founded at the University of Dayton in 1999, but Lalanne teachers have also served under the Diocese of Lansing (Michigan) since the 2012-2013 school year. Most recently, the program has placed five teachers, including Dudek, in Jackson, Michigan, where the teachers live in community.
The house is assigned a local spiritual mentor to facilitate spiritual conversations, share prayers and challenge the teachers in their faith formation.
With 88% of the Lalanne graduates still in education and 85% of them still in Catholic education, the program is creating teachers not only for two years of service, but for life.
“It’s these extra things that make our students successful,” Mergler said.