This month, Cristo Rey Jesuit is proud to feature Margie Miller in the Faculty Spotlight. This is Ms. Miller’s first year teaching English at Cristo Rey Jesuit, having joined us from St. Peter Claver Cristo Rey Catholic High School in Omaha, Nebraska.
Ms. Miller has a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Arts in Education from Stanford University where she graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
Why did you decide to move to Houston to work for Cristo Rey Jesuit?
I knew I wanted to continue working at a Cristo Rey school if possible. During my interview and visit to the school, I had the opportunity to meet a great group of students, and I was impressed by the collegiality of the staff as well as the general school environment. Although it was difficult to move so far away from my family, I knew Cristo Rey Jesuit would be a great place to work.
What lessons and experiences have you been able to bring to Cristo Rey Jesuit from St. Peter Claver Cristo Rey Catholic High School?
It was inspiring to attend the first graduation at St. Peter Claver Cristo Rey and realize how far the students had come and how much they had accomplished. Many students who had never considered college to be a real option were preparing to head off to college with a new sense of confidence and impressive resumes. It is exciting to see the students at Cristo Rey Jesuit on this same path. New schools face so many challenges because everything is a “first,” so it is helpful to have experienced some of these things before.
What makes you a proponent of the Cristo Rey model?
I like that the Cristo Rey network has such a student-centered mission and aims to provide students with a well-rounded experience through its academic, faith, work-study and service components. Through the work-study program, students are able to see where their education might take them in the future, and the business partners have the unique opportunity to mentor students and help them access the education needed to achieve their goals.
What are the challenges of teaching at a Cristo Rey model school?
It can be a challenge to navigate a schedule where students work one day a week. Teachers have to be very flexible and organized. Also, at times the college prep focus can be daunting. Even when planning for ninth-grade courses, we have to think about where students need to be in four short years and make sure we are giving them the right skills and tools to get there.
What is it about teaching English that excites you?
I love reading, writing and talking about books, and I get to do that every day with my students. No matter who you are or where you are from, you can pick up a book and encounter an experience or world completely different from your own. In addition, it’s empowering for students to find their own voices through speaking and writing, and I feel lucky to be a part of that.
What has been your favorite Cristo Rey Jesuit memory?
One of my favorite moments was the start of the summer training for new students. It was fun to see students walk in for the first time as Cristo Rey Jesuit students. Everyone was so positive and professional, and it was exciting to be a part of the Cristo Rey Jesuit community.
What was the last good book that you read?
I really enjoyed The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse. In the book, the writer draws from his own experiences growing up in Echo Park, Los Angeles. He creates a series of unique characters whose separate stories are woven together to form a really interesting narrative about what it means to be part of a community.
Check out this video of Ms. Miller’s Sophomore English class engaging in Socratic dialogue.
Dear Cristo Rey Jesuit Friends and Supporters,
I am extremely proud to introduce our Cristo Rey Jesuit Lions sports program. This is our first year as a varsity program and we will be participating in Volleyball, Boys Soccer, Cross Country, Girls Soccer, Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Baseball, and Track and Field.
The sports program has been greeted enthusiastically by the Cristo Rey Jesuit students. They are working their hardest at balancing the task of being both a student and an athlete at Cristo Rey Jesuit. Participating in sports has given them the opportunity to grow their character, responsibility, and leadership skills.
Like any new sports program, Cristo Rey Jesuit is in the process of acquiring all of the necessary equipment needed in order to build a successful program. Although we have the basis of what we need per sport, there will always be items of want that are left on our wish list due to budget restraints. Practice items are important to our student’s development as student athletes.
The Cristo Rey Jesuit sports program is looking for any training tools that are needed in the sports that we offer. If you would like to donate any items relating to volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball or track, please contact me and I will make arrangements for the delivery of those items. Below is a list of items that are in the sporting area that we are looking for.
Cristo Rey Jesuit has caught college fever! As the juniors inch closer to graduation, college is on their minds more than ever. On the evening of October 4th, the entire junior class along with parents, faculty and staff attended the Houston Catholic High Schools College Night at Strake Jesuit. Representatives from more than 200 colleges and universities were in attendance to answer questions about admissions, scholarships, campus life and more.
College Counselor Joseph Miller described the night as exciting and overwhelming.
“Roaming the fair alongside our students, I could hear them asking great questions and looking for nuggets of information to take back with them. The fact that over 200 colleges were in attendance filling two gyms amid crowds of students and parents from Catholic schools did not deter them. It's great to see our students feeling a little overwhelmed at this point, that way they can appreciate the hard work they have ahead of them.”
In addition, Cristo Rey Jesuit has been visited by over 18 colleges this year. In the past two weeks alone, there have been visits by representatives of Xavier University, Saint Louis University and Saint Joseph’s University.
“I have done my best to spread the word that Cristo Rey Jesuit is open for business and that we now have upperclassmen,” said Mr. Miller. “The more the message spreads, the more colleges will come knocking on our door.”
The majority of colleges that have visited know about Cristo Rey Jesuit through the Cristo Rey network of schools. Mr. Miller is excited to see students interested in great schools like Boston College, Saint Louis University, Catholic University, Georgetown University, Davidson College and Texas A&M University to name a few. He is also extremely appreciative of faculty support.
“I am proud of our faculty for allowing our students to visit with colleges. As we continue to examine our college preparatory school culture, these types of experiential learning opportunities are key to our students’ growth. It was also great to see our faculty asking clarifying questions and getting involved in the presentations with our students.”
This summer, 16 Cristo Rey Jesuit students, along with English teacher Andrew Hoyt, traveled together to the historic and beautiful campus of the University of Notre Dame for a five-day conference about vocation and giftedness. The conference, Notre Dame Vision, a national summer program for high school students, challenges participants to ask important questions about life, faith, and how to use their gifts to be the change they want to see in the world.
While on campus at Notre Dame, the Cristo Rey Jesuit students lived in dorms and spent their days learning with more than 400 high school students from around the country and 75 Notre Dame Students who served as mentors during the conference. Whether they were praying at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, attending sessions in the gorgeous lecture halls on campus, enjoying the benefits of a college dining hall, or just spending time with their new friends, our students leapt into the experience and came back from their first week on a college campus transformed and ready to begin the school year.
Now back at Cristo Rey Jesuit, these 16 students have shared their experience with their classmates and have started a group to assist with Campus Ministry activities and find other ways to use their gifts and talents to serve the school community. The group is now beginning to sell snacks and concessions at sports games and after school to fundraise, in hopes of taking even more students with them next summer.
Since Cristo Rey Jesuit's founding in 2008, Houston's energy industry has been a big supporter -- many students work at energy companies across Houston. This partnership has caught the eye of the Oil & Gas Financial Journal with an article in its most recent issue. Click here to read the article at The Oil & Gas Financial Journal's website.
Cristo Rey Jesuit held its inaugural Service Day entitled “Building the Kingdom” on Friday, August 26th. The entire student body of more than 270 freshmen, sophomores and juniors infiltrated the community surrounding the school at multiple sites to provide aid to groups in need.
The day began with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Martinez followed by a rousing and inspiring speech by Dean of Campus Ministry Casey Johnson. Mr. Johnson encouraged with a quote by Mother Teresa: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
Students then broke into small groups led by faculty and staff to read John 13:1, the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Students discussed what the scripture passage teaches about service and what Jesus calls us to do. The entire student body, faculty and staff then departed to six different sites to complete their hours of service. A small group remained at Cristo Rey Jesuit and gave back to the school by completing much needed and designated tasks for the betterment of our school.
Students visited with residents at Afton Oaks Nursing Home, many of whom were in pain or living with mental illness. Students did a tremendous job of holding conversations and sharing life experiences with those who needed companionship. Many students initiated a friendship with a woman who sang them gospel songs and planned on returning to see her on her birthday at the end of September.
At Harbach Ripley Neighborhood Center, students spread fliers for the neighborhood center letting people know of the services available. Some students also helped out on the grounds of the center, beautifying the facility by taking care of some of the gardening needs.
Students removed invasive species and conducted general beautification at FM Law Park. They even came across three abandoned kittens and took it upon themselves to care for them.
At Southeast Area Ministries Thrift store and Food Pantry, one of the few local food pantries in the area, students assisted in food bagging, stocking shelves, and office filing. They were able to experience an ecumenical organization that cares for the needs of people in a tangible way.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Elementary School also enjoyed having the Cristo Rey Jesuit students at the school. They took part in 1st grade reading projects and helped teach the Kindergarteners how to hold a pencil correctly and write from top to bottom, left to right. In addition, they helped with putting together bulletin boards, did inventory on PE clothes and polo shirts, and helped in PE classes.
Service Day, overall, was an enormous success. At the end of the day, students experienced the true joy of giving back to others in the school community. Many expressed their desire to volunteer again in the near future and consistently throughout their high school years and beyond. The day ended with a movie and popcorn in the school gym.