The Influence of Cornelia Connelly in My Professional Life

27 March 2018

The following was originally published in Insights from Holy Child, a publication of Holy Child School at Rosemont.

This past Sunday at the Family Mass and Breakfast, we honored faculty and staff members for their milestone anniversaries. Each Holy Child School at Rosemont employee strives to embody the spirit of our foundress Cornelia Connelly. Judy Wankmiller Cassidy ’59 P’85 ’86 ’90 ’93 and Second Grade teacher, reflects on Cornelia’s influence in her 41 years as part of the Holy Child faculty.

By Judy Wankmiller Cassidy

Over the many years, I have been involved with Holy Child School at Rosemont, I have been asked one question many times, “What makes Holy Child so special?” As a young child, I would always say to my friends, “I go to a very happy school!” I didn’t realize then all that went into making that a reality, but as many years have passed and my role has changed from student to school parent and most importantly to a faculty member, I understand that this isn’t just a coincidence but a direct result of the teachings of the foundress of the Holy Child order, Cornelia Connelly. I realize that her vision as an educator has formed me into the adult and teacher I am today.

Judy as a Holy Child student

From the beginning, Holy Child schools have followed the directives of Cornelia Connelly taken from her Book of the Order of Studies (1863). She clearly states what is important for her faculty to impart to the children they teach: “It is necessary for the teachers to incite the pupils with a desire to excel at their various Examinations throughout the whole year.” She provided her teachers an educational framework by stating, “The explanations should be given in a clear, concise manner, and it should be as amusing and interesting as possible.” She also insisted that “The pupils must be watched over and spoken to with the greatest sweetness and charity.”

This teaching and philosophy has endured over many years, and it continues to make me strive to follow the example of the teachers I loved and admired. Cornelia also directs her teachers to “Trust the children and never let your confidence in them be easily shaken. Confidence begets confidence.”

I have always believed that as teachers we have the privilege and responsibility to instill in the children a love of learning and the desire to achieve all they can. I believe we have the obligation to allow children time to grow and become the best they can be. We can give children confidence by allowing them to develop ways to learn that meet their needs. Additionally, creativity is essential for children to learn. Cornelia challenges us all to use art, music, and drama to excite children and to help them grow all their talents. Does this atmosphere of joyful learning make a difference? It does I believe, when a child, can say with great pride, “I just get smarter and smarter each day.”

Cornelia also taught that “Stiffness and rigor will not bring forth love and these are not the spirit of the Holy Child. “So each day when I see our vision statement on the walls of our school, “Nurturing excellence, in a joyful, Catholic community, “I feel certain that almost 200 years after the first Holy Child school opened in England, Cornelia Connelly would be proud of Holy Child School at Rosemont. May we never tire of making this possible for many more generations of children.

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