Sister Stories

Sister Lisa Perkowski, IHM: A Day in the Life

A day in the life of an Interim Principal at Academy of the Holy Names (Tampa, FL)

6 a.m.

My alarm rings. In between a few snooze button hits, I begin to rise and raise my awareness of God. I greet Jesus and Mary. My morning prayer is a time to be still and tune into my being—my hopes and concerns for the day—in order to ask for the graces I need for the day ahead. These moments of quiet stillness in God’s loving presence help prepare me. Coffee, a bite to eat, dress, and a good look in the mirror—with a prayer that this face can be a sign of God’s love today. I’m out the door.

I have a 25-minute ride to school. Heading east I have the opportunity to marvel at God’s beauty in the sky, and its reflections off the bay—more time to seek God’s grace.

7:30 a.m.

I arrive. Approaching the school door, a quiet sense of gratitude is felt for being a part of the Academy of the Holy Names and serving at this school. I begin routine of unlocking doors, turning on lights; putting schedules on the board and giving morning greetings to the girls.

8:15 a.m.

After prayer and homeroom announcements, the first class begins at 8:15 a.m. Students offer intentions and we pray the Art Prayer, a prayer I wrote while I was a candidate in the community and have used with students I taught ever since:

God we are your works of art, may we open our eyes to all creation with faith, May we sketch our dreams with hope, May we build today with love, May we paint our world with peace.

Sister Lisa enjoys one-on-one time with her students

Teaching three 85-minute visual art classes each day, there are many different levels of interaction going on, from the mundane reminders of project due dates and directions for studio use to the rich conversations with students about their ideas, use of materials, and techniques throughout their creative process.

I teach students in darkroom and digital photography, drawing and painting, AP Studio Art and yearbook. I love creating opportunities for them to experiment and create, engage and connect ideas, and reflect. Some days require whole group instruction and demonstration; on other days students need a lot of individual guidance and feedback. When I need to be honest, yet gentle and constructive on my feedback, I quietly invoke the Holy Spirit.

Yet, the prayer at the start of class expresses my essential hope for my students: my students one day see their art making as a metaphor for living their lives with meaning and integrity.

12:50 p.m.

I take a deep breath and break for lunch. On a quiet day, I can eat and catch up with my colleague who also teaches visual arts; often enough a student stops by to work, ask a question, or share an idea. The room bustles with creative energy throughout the day.

1:20 p.m.

On this particular day rotation, I have a planning set in the afternoon. I take a trip to the high school office, an opportunity to walk the outside corridor and breathe in the fresh air, an opportunity to run into and chat with colleagues. I walk back to my room reflectivity, refilling with God’s grace for the next tasks: grading, planning, emailing, department business, and mission trip planning are just of few of the regular items on my to-do lists.

3:30 p.m.

After dismissal duty and a faculty meeting, I strive to get a few more sketchbook assignments graded. The energy in the room is quieted, and now I can really focus.

5:15 p.m.

I arrive home to prepare dinner; creatively quick (less than an hour) and nutritious is key. My housemate, Sister Florence Ann and I bless the meal and sit down to eat. Often, I listen to her day’s whereabouts and interactions first, and then I share mine.

After dinner we have evening prayer, a time to rest our day’s efforts in God’s hands as we pray for others, our Church, and our world.

7:30 p.m.

Without a meeting or school function tonight, I then can escape for a walk outside—nature is so conducive for my personal prayer. I may appreciate the beauty around or I may take time to process my day with Jesus—be it praying for a student, praying about how to handle a situation; reflecting on how I might need to guide my students to a next step differently than I had.

I come in and spend some time with Flo in the living room; we exchange about news, IHM community matters, family, or ministry schedules.

9:00 p.m.

By 9:00 p.m. I hit the shower and ready for bed, decide on my lunch for tomorrow and make the coffee. I go to my room and usually find one more email or one more article to read before setting aside the device. I read a psalm and settle into a few more minutes with God to turn over my shortcomings, to give thanks for the signs of his loving presence in my life this day, and place myself in the arms of Jesus and Mary as I then drift to sleep.

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