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Truth & Beauty in the classroom

Meet the effervescent and talented Angeli Fernandes (TBP ’23). A graduate of Seton Hall University, she spent three years as a FOCUS missionary at Harvard before taking on her current position. Angeli has just finished her second year of teaching science, theology, and theatre at Montrose School in Medfield, Massachusetts.

She designed her FIAT project to organically bolster the work she is already doing as a teacher in the all-girls academy: to create more moments of encounter with beauty for her 7th Grade religion class.

On her TBP application, Angeli described her faith life as “a pilgrimage and an adventure.” The TBP caught up with her a year after her Immersion to ask how the TBP experience affected her then and continues to impact her life now.  

TBP: Can you recall a particular moment or story from your TBP Immersion in Rome that you will never forget?

AF: I think one of the most powerful moments for me was sitting before the nails, thorns, and fragments of the true cross. I remember kneeling down right next to the glass window where I could see them and spending a long time meditating on the wounds of Christ.

TBP: Would you please describe your FIAT project?

"Mass of St. John of Matha" (1666) by Juan Carreño de Miranda hangs in the Louvre. Paris.

AF: My FIAT project is working to create more moments of encounter with beauty for my 7th Grade religion class! I am working towards integrating pieces of music, poetry, art, and literature into the curriculum to make it full of stories through which the girls can encounter God more fully.

For example, we view a different piece of art or music in each class to help us understand the topic more deeply. When we were learning about the Holy Mass, for example, we studied a painting by Juan Carreño de Miranda to understand what happens at the both physical and spiritual level. The girls complete a "see, think, wonder chart" in which they have to make observations, consider what they observed, and discuss what the art causes them to wonder or question. This way, the art draws them into a deeper reflection on the topic we are studying.

TBP: TBP aims to transform the lives of those who spend a week with us in the living classroom of Rome. Do you agree with that?

AF: As I walked through the living classroom of Rome, I was so inspired by the rich history of the Church, and the deep beauty of each place around me! I have since tried to treat every place I go as a living classroom, also trying to teach my students to do the same, whether they are drawing a blade of grass to discover the intricacies of creation, praying with scripture or a meditation in the chapel, or even learning about virtue and teamwork through athletics.

TBP: What’s next for you in your FIAT and/or in your life?

AF: I am about to start Year Three of teaching and Year Two of graduate school. I'm studying for my Master's in character formation at the University of Birmingham in England, and I hope to continue to use what I have learned from my FIAT project through researching for my dissertation. I am so excited to continue to uncover the way that learning about God through stories can transform the way that I structure my classroom.


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