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Loretto Community members’ passion for education helps Escuela bloom

Posted on April 26, 2022, by Loretto Community

Black-and-white photo of two women looking over a female student's shoulder at her computer screen.
Susan Swain SL and Joy Gerity CoL, two of the school’s founding members, brought significant experience to Escuela. Susan, standing at left, and Joy, center, assist students at St. Mary’s Academy. Each had served in several roles, including as teacher and principal at St. Mary’s, before investing their skill, energy and love for children at Escuela.
Photo: Loretto Archives

Susan Swain SL

By Marlene Spero SL

Loretto staff photo

Susan Swain SL was a gifted teacher and administrator who brought to Escuela years of innovative elementary school teaching. Susan was skilled in implementing the open classroom concept that focused on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. She had been mentored by educators who came from England to share their knowledge.

Susan spent many summers at Loretto in Kansas City, Mo., instructing area teachers in the theory and practice of the open classroom concept as part of their education in a Master of Arts degree in teaching at Webster University.

Susan not only served elementary students at Loretto in Kansas City but at St. Mary’s Academy in Englewood, Colo. Her fellow faculty members and students fondly remember her as caring and creative, giving her all to help students achieve their potential as lifelong learners.

In addition to her many years teaching, Susan served as principal at St. Mary’s Academy and at Loretto in Kansas City.

Joy Gerity CoL

By Regina Drey SL

Photo by Regina Drey SL

Joy Gerity’s well-known mantra “What’s best for kids?” was at the heart of her life as an educator and her involvement at Escuela de Guadalupe. Joy came to Escuela with 34-years’ experience at St. Mary’s Academy in Denver and poured all of that and more into an idea that blossomed into the excellent school Escuela is today.

I was Joy’s longtime friend, housemate and St. Mary’s col- league. I well remember evenings when she’d come home from late afternoon planning meetings excited to share what was emerging. She loved being part of this school from the ground up.

Joy thrived on hard work, facing challenges with enthusiasm and creativity. She enjoyed collaborating, listening to others’ ideas, pulling together common threads — what grade to start with? How to add grades organically? What does the curriculum look like? How to attract the teachers who are a good fit for this unique school? How to be a community where students grow into their best selves? Perhaps most importantly, how to create an innovative dual-language school made up of 50% Spanish speakers and 50% English speakers, with the goal of proficiency in both? It was the dual-language aspect that Joy felt was most compelling and would have long-lasting influence on how students would see the world and their place in it. I believe she was right.

Susan Swain SL pauses for a photo with David Card, early president of Escuela de Guadalupe.
Photo: Loretto Archives

Read or download the entire Spring 2022 issue of Loretto Magazine here.


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