Proclaiming Jesus through education and Christian formation.

Sisters in Ministry September 2011
Sister Mary Timothy Bland: A life in teaching God’s little ones


Sister Mary Timothy asks one of her students for his prayer intention at the start of religion class at the Owensboro Catholic K-3 Campus.

Update: Sister Mary Timothy Bland retired as a full-time teacher in 2016, but continues to serve as a substitute teacher at the K-3 Campus.

In 1969, two years after she began teaching the third and fourth grade at St. Teresa School in Glennonville, Mo., Sister Mary Timothy Bland was approached by the superior, Mother Joseph Marian Logsdon, and asked to teach the first grade on a temporary basis.

“Switching to first grade was difficult,” Sister Mary Timothy said. “I’d done my student teaching in third and fourth grade, and all my full-time teaching there.” Comforted by Mother Joseph Marian’s words that the assignment was “just temporary,” Sister Mary Timothy took over the first grade class at St. Teresa.

Next she took over the first grade class at St. Christopher School in Radcliff, Ky. She led the first grade at St. Angela Merici School in Florissant, Mo., St. Joseph School in Bowling Green, Ky., and Blessed Mother School in Owensboro, Ky. – all just temporarily.

“I taught first grade for 20 years, 1969-88, then moved to the second grade in 1988,” she said. She has been teaching the second grade ever since in Owensboro, now at the Owensboro Catholic K-3 Campus, in this her 44th year in the classroom.

“I like that age. This is the sacramental year, and they get to write in cursive,” Sister Mary Timothy said. “They are still innocent enough, anything you do for them, they are appreciative.”

The staff at the Owensboro Catholic K-3 Campus is glad Sister Mary Timothy has made a career of teaching the early grades.

“She’s awesome,” said Principal Lori Whitehouse. “She has been a teacher a long time, she has seen education come full circle. She’s always willing to embrace whatever comes along,” Whitehouse said. “She does her newsletter and lesson plans electronically, and runs the Smart Board in her classroom. She does such a beautiful job preparing children for the sacraments.”

Sister Mary Timothy, left, meets with the other three second-grade teachers every Thursday afternoon to plan and compare notes. The teachers are, from left, Andra Montgomery, Theresa McCarty and Carolyn Taylor.

Carolyn Taylor also teaches second grade at the K-3 Campus, and has taught with Sister Mary Timothy for 25 years. “She brings so much. She’s so dedicated to the children and her mission,” Taylor said. “She talks about Saint Ursula and Saint Angela Merici with the children. She’s very patient with the children, and they love her.”

It’s beneficial having a sister in the school, Taylor said. “It’s just really good to see that part of our Catholic heritage and our faith. Because she is a religious, she exudes that.”

The two meet with the other second-grade teachers at K-3, Andra Montgomery and Theresa McCarty, every Thursday afternoon to plan activities for the week. “That continuity really helps,” Taylor said. “If we’re not all on the same page, at least we’re in the same ballpark.”

“We have a wonderful spirit at K-3, we’re kind of bonded,” Sister Mary Timothy said. There are more than 400 students in the school, with six kindergarten classes, five first grades, and four second and third grades.

While the Ursuline Sisters were once predominantly educators, Sister Mary Timothy is among only a handful of sisters in active ministry who have spent their entire Ursuline years in the classroom. The reason is simple — “the love of teaching.”

“The summer I don’t look forward to going back, I need to start looking for something else,” she said. “Having children that you can teach a skill, that ‘aha’ moment, that just makes it worthwhile.”

Another sister who has spent her entire career teaching is Sister Laurita Spalding, and she recognizes the excellence and dedication Sister Mary Timothy brings to the classroom.

“She is able to meet the students where they are and help them grow and mature in their own time frame,” Sister Laurita said. “She is patient, caring, and compassionate. She truly has a passion for teaching.”

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