Looking back, Caysie Lavigne C’23 can safely say her interest in guiding and caring for others began early in life.
“Growing up, I had two younger brothers. I just knew that I enjoyed helping to care for them and teaching them things,” she said.
As she got older, she began to babysit and act as a nanny, spending more and more time with kids. In high school, she participated in a mentorship program in an elementary school for field experience and felt called to teach because of the way she could relate to and get along with kids.
“That’s where I was like: oh, this is really something for me.”
She pursued her passion for teaching at Winona State University, graduating in 2020. Now in her third year as an educator, she teaches first graders through Cotter Schools, first at St. Stanislaus and now at St. Luke’s Hall.
The thing she loves most about teaching is being able to connect with her students.
“No matter what is going on in my life, positive or negative, I know my day will be better just by being at school with the kids. When I see them making growth, there’s no better feeling than when they ‘get’ something.”
While Caysie didn’t initially seek out a Catholic school when exploring career opportunities, the atmosphere and welcome she received when coming to St. Stanislaus felt right.
“I had a couple of interviews before I interviewed at St. Stanislaus. Both my interviews before this were for public schools. I was offered a job at both and turned them down after interviewing at St. Stanislaus. For me, it was really important that I felt welcomed and comfortable, especially in my first year of teaching, and that was what I immediately felt when I came here.”
She enjoys working for a Catholic school where she can tie in faith as an educator, and the certificate she received from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Catholic School Leadership program has helped her understand how her school runs beyond her role.
“What I’ve gained most from the program is a deeper understanding of what it takes to lead and run a school,” she said, “and how important faith is when we are a Catholic school. How we can carry that through and have it represented in everything we do.”
“Being able to talk about Jesus every day with the kids is a really special thing,” she added. “I didn’t grow up very religious, but as I’ve been working here, I’ve started to connect with my own faith journey again, and it’s been awesome.”
She believes the new certificate will help her be a better leader amongst her grade-level team, and she will continue to use what she’s learned as she takes on more leadership roles, whether on a committee or helping with a project.
“I feel more equipped to do that now,” Caysie said. “I’m always hoping to grow as a teacher. There’s so much to learn.”
Learn more about this Saint Mary’s program: Catholic School Leadership Certificate