“Sapere Aude!” (Dare to know). The Enlightenment Philosopher, Immanuel Kant, dared his students to forge their own intellectual path and follow their own reason. Although Kant penned his call to action almost 300 years ago, it still has relevance and force to this day, just ask Mount Alvernia Academy Fifth Grade teacher, Katherine Michalik, who has made Kant’s saying her motto.
“He thought it important that students be able to use their own reason to solve problems, without guidance,” she explained. “While I’m happy to guide my students now, I hope that the skills they learn today will prepare them for a lifetime of pursuing knowledge and courageously thinking for themselves.”
Ms. Michalik’s commitment to helping students think critically comes from her own love of learning and sharing the thrill of independent thinking with others. “Teaching has always been my dream,” she exclaimed. “I have four younger siblings who served as the perfect test subjects for my first classroom — otherwise known as our basement!” Her enthusiasm for learning has only grown stronger since those early days in her parents’ basement. As she continued along her academic journey, Ms. Michalik had the good fortune of having some incredible teachers. “My role models include a handful of teachers who pushed my classmates and me to use literary themes to examine our world,” she said. “They taught me how to express myself and stay true to my own ‘voice.’ I’ve always wanted to be as compassionate and inspiring as they were.”
Ask any one of her students and they will tell you that Ms. Michalik has not only taught them to think critically, but also inspired them to find their own intellectual paths. Whether analyzing a story or learning about how artists and artisans have made pigment over the centuries, her students ask pointed and creative questions, exhibiting a budding curiosity and daring to know.
Coming from strong school communities, Ms. Michalik immediately felt at home when she came to MAA. “Mount Alvernia reminds me of the schools I attended — the atmosphere is that of a family,” she stated. “I was drawn to the multitude of community events, service projects, and opportunities for students to share their gifts with others. I also appreciate the view of my beautiful alma mater from the Middle School building.”
For Ms. Michalik, it is the people here at MAA that make our community so much more than just a school. “I love hearing from the ‘Sunshine Club’ every morning and being greeted by the lovely ladies in the office,” she said. “Students are always quick to smile and say hello. The daily prayer intentions, service-minded students, and the plethora of mentors truly make MAA a community.” Ms. Michalik has become a vital part of our community by inspiring her students to become lifelong learners who will always dare to know.