Community Building

By: Kathy Habel

The summer hiatus is over.  Students return to 80 Independence Avenue excited to reconnect with their friends, make new friends and settle back into the routines of the school year. For faculty and staff, the feeling is a ditto! For new faculty and staff, the feelings are a bit different. Who are these people who teach next door to me? How will the “love of Christ” drive me on? What does it mean to be part of the Archbishop Williams community?  Those questions are answered on the very first day that faculty and staff, old and new, convene.

The day began, as it so often does, with a liturgy. Dr. Volonnino reminded all gathered how prayer sets the tone for our school culture. Quiet reflection is a valuable ingredient to the beginning of any school year. The quiet, however, didn’t last long. Once Mass concluded, new faculty and staff were introduced and the games began! Literally, games began with the popular tool of Ice Breakers. Faculty was divided into 8 teams of faculty and staff, veterans and “newbie’s”. Through a gauntlet of ice breakers, faculty and staff were introduced to each other, heard personal histories, and shared some pedagogy. Most importantly, the spirit of community was built with ping pong balls, index cards, drawings and senses of humor.

Food is always a way for people to be engaged with one another. Faculty and staff were given a longer lunch than the 25 minute one they will become accustomed to each day and the “getting to know you” continued. With each passing hour, minute by minute, a sense of community was building. Many of the initial questions that new faculty and staff had were being answered. Being a Bishop was more than just doing a job. It was an attitude of being part of something larger than oneself. It was learning the history of Archbishop Williams High School and the tenets of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, who founded the school. Then realizing the mission to live those tenets in the classroom and beyond. Most importantly, it was the accepting of being part of the Williams community and beginning to envision their place in it.