When it comes to preparing the next generation, The Franciscan School is committed to providing a strong academic environment; but it equally values the role it has in fostering community and shaping young lives.
Ian Wirth, who attended TFS from kindergarten until graduation, and St. Francis of Assisi Preschool prior to his time at TFS, says that the parish and school played a major role in his upbringing. “TFS is not only a great environment for learning with supportive and receptive teachers – it’s also the place where children can find lifelong friends and learning experiences,” he says.
Looking back on his time as a student, Wirth remembers how rich the community is at TFS.
“My graduating class had a ton of school spirit and I often think back to how supportive we were of each other,” Wirth says. “I still remember how much fun it was staying after school for our home basketball games – we had a good team and a great, enthusiastic student section. The games were usually packed. It really highlighted the value of the community that surrounds the school.”
After graduating from TFS in 2012, Wirth moved on to attend Cardinal Gibbons High School and then the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. In May, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history and a second major in film and media studies.
And he’s still not done learning.
“I’m currently working toward my master’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in social studies,” Wirth says. “It’s a one-year intensive program, so I’ll graduate in May 2021 and I hope to begin teaching middle or high school students next year.”
As part of the program, Wirth has the opportunity to develop teaching tools through internships at local schools – but he’s gained authentic teaching experience by staying connected to TFS as a substitute teacher as well.
“I had so many great experiences with teachers as a student and now as a substitute, too. The faculty simply sets TFS apart from other elementary-middle schools,” he says. “And while the staff has changed since I graduated, I love getting to see many familiar faces when I come back.”
Last year, Wirth had the opportunity to come alongside Ms. Kababik – his fifth grade home-room teacher – to work with her class for a week.
“I loved being in Ms. Kababik’s class when I was a student,” he says. “But coming back, I came to appreciate her attitude toward teaching even more – because teaching isn’t easy! Watching her work, I learned so much about how to keep students engaged, how to manage behavior and distractions and how to make learning interesting and relevant.”
As he prepares to enter the world of education and take his turn pouring into the next generation, Wirth recognizes how much he will draw from his experience at TFS.
“Growing up in an environment where I was frequently reminded of how Jesus and St. Francis would respond to others taught me a lot about compassion and empathy. In various situations, I’ve learned to consider what people may be going through or struggling with. And I’ll always carry that with me.”