By Seton Teaching Fellow, Mary Jane Plote
As a Seton Teaching Fellow, we all get to play unique roles at both Brilla– forming the minds and hearts of scholars– as well as El Camino– leading them to Heaven. We teach in classrooms with one specific group of students, or we work with a grade level. Some of us teach the arts, some work more one-on-one. We see so many sides of what impacting the life of a child can mean. But there’s one view I particularly love: the view from inside the the costume of Carlton, the Brilla Cardinal Mascot.
A few times now, I have had the wonderful opportunity to wear the mascot suit– something I actually like, and volunteered to do, no less! I have channeled my best acting/goofing/miming skills for the first day of school and for roosting rallies. It’s not my best look, but honestly it’s probably also not my worst. With black leggings, as legs, a giant head made out of sculpted foam and felt, and strange sock-like gloves, I get to bring to life Carlton, the master of Courage, Wisdom, Justice, and Self-Control, and the all-time favorite “guest in the nest.”
The best part about it is, that I get to see the scholars from a view only Carlton has. On the first day of school I had the opportunity to pick up the Scholar of the Year in a limo, with his family, and bring him to school like a super star! I get to wave and dance and cheer on scholars at the roosting rallies, where I get to be a special guest in the nest. But I realized just how special that vantage point was the Friday before Thanksgiving break. While I waited on stage, behind a closed door, I got to watch through the little window as scholars who had brought in the most canned good items for our food drive, got to pie their teachers in the face. Teachers donned a rain poncho and shower cap, and gladly took their place on stage to reward these scholars’ giving.
When I came out of the little classroom on to the stage, and I saw the smiles on the little faces I couldn’t help but smile too. Inside that giant cardinal head I was grinning ear to ear, thinking about how special that moment was. The scholars were cheering, and genuinely excited to see how much food had been collected, and were loud and proud as Ms. Apfel (our School Leader) and I held up the sign showing that we had raised over 20,000 items! After all of that excitement, I was fortunate to be part of the drawing of names to give away Thanksgiving meals to 30 of our own families. I was blessed to stand on stage and celebrate these families, and even more blessed to have my own family watch from the audience as they visited Brilla and New York.
It is amazing to watch children donate to strangers in their community; showing their wisdom and justice as they considered those less fortunate.
Sometimes, when the days are challenging, or when the task of forming scholars and disciples seems daunting I think of my favorite view, through the eyes of Carlton, and it all seems better. These children bring so much to the lives of us Fellows– joy, hope, humor, and of course a challenge– and the least I can do for them is dress like a giant bird for a little while, and watch their faces light up.