Artifact of the Month:

The Best Parts About Teaching

Ava Mari Doogue, CSJ Archivist

A spread from Sr. Miriam Regan’s course planner; the cover of the CSJ Non-graded, Continuous Progress handbook; and the Intercom newssheet from November, 1972.

What are the best parts about teaching? When asked this question, Sisters Kay Decker and Elizabeth Joseph Toomey responded, “The students, watching their progression, laughing with them, working on improving their academic skills and creating a community within the classroom. Hearing: ‘Sister, could we say some prayers today for my ___ who ___.’”

During March, the archive is presenting an exhibit dedicated to the many years of dedicated service of the sisters, inside and outside of the classroom. This exhibit shares the behind-the-scenes preparation: work done ahead of time to ensure these joyous moments.


Non-graded, Continuous Progress handbook, written by Sisters Jeanne Ibach, CSJ, and Julia Ford, CSJ, presents guidelines for administrators and teachers interested in a non-graded learning style. Corresponding articles from Intercom* highlight achievements of students from Jackson School, where Sr. Jeanne taught. 

Sister Miriam Regan’s course planner, dated 1929-1934, demonstrates the immense preparation required to teach students. The frayed covers, detailed lesson planning, and taped-in graphs show Miriam’s dedication to becoming an expert math teacher.

Some of the oldest materials for this display are from the Walnut Park Country Day School, Newton series. There is a progress report for Paul Buke who attend the Saint Joseph Summer School. His summer school teacher (not identified) highlights the students’ progress, especially when it comes to reading comprehension, but does have some advice as to maintain the progress. Intercom* articles were highlighted this month because they were submitted by Sisters. These are firsthand accounts and feature the best parts of teaching. 

Whether our sisters are educating in a classroom, along a picket line, or conversing with a neighbor, the purpose and message are the same: to continue helping and educating others on the issues that matter most — whether that be advocating for an end to gun violence, working with immigrants, or teaching students simple arithmetic. Behind closed doors or out in the open, CSJs aren’t deterred by hard work. Why? Because satisfaction comes from seeing the one they helped succeed. 

*Intercom was an inter-congregational newssheet with its first publication in December 1971. It is unknown who started Intercom but reading through different articles and notices it is clear that its purpose was to share congregational news, as well as poems, drawings, stories, and life updates of Boston CSJ sisters.