Introducing Chelsea Niemiec!
CLT recently hired Chelsea Niemiec, a native of Houston, Texas, and a former teacher in both private and public schools, as our new Director of Catholic School Partnerships.
CLT: Well, first of all, welcome aboard! Tell us a little about yourself.
CN: I have so many interests and hobbies! I love all things outdoors: gardening, bird watching, trail running, biking, bonfires, kayaking, camping, etc. I also love collecting records. I love making things too! When I was little, I used to make clay fairies and dragons to sell at craft shows. Today, I make stickers, baked goods, and little stories, and I love cooking food to share with others. I also love board games, reading, robust conversation, tea, dark chocolate, contemplative prayer time, and coffee shops. Most of all, I love these things when I’m in the company of my loving husband or our friends.
CLT: Sounds like a full schedule! Turning to the school side of things, how were you educated?
CN: I was publicly educated growing up. My public education taught me to read, write, and do arithmetic, but it was in direct opposition to my faith and values.
CLT: And college?
CN: I went to Texas A&M to study Nutrition. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I was stuck on the factory line of American progressive education and felt it was “the best thing to do.” I quickly realized that the medical field was not for me, and I became a holistic health coach! While trying to start a small health coaching business, I started substitute teaching in order to help my meager income. I instantly fell in love with teaching and knew that this was what I wanted to do!
CLT: Where did you go from there?
CN: I taught for a few years, searching for the best philosophy of education. I went from public schools to private schools and found my way to Catholic classical education. I worked at Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I saw what education could be—beautiful, sacred, challenging, and meaningful. Ever since seeing the beauty of classical education as a teacher, I have made it my mission to share this beauty with everyone I can. I am currently pursuing my masters degree at the University of Dallas in classical education.
CLT: That’s wonderful. What drew you towards working for the CLT?
CN: After moving back to Texas, I taught briefly, but decided to help the Catholic classical movement in a new and valuable way by signing on with CLT. I saw the positive impact that the CLT had on several schools I worked at. Through seeing this impact for myself, I realized that the CLT isn’t just a test, it is an invitation to a rich culture and life within the school.
CLT: Are there any aspects of the work that you particularly enjoy?
CN: My favorite part of work is talking with Catholic school leaders about how we can support their mission. I find great hope in the many schools that have partnered with CLT to encourage the renewal of their schools! We partner with many schools that have been on the brink of closure, adopted a classical education, partnered with CLT, and witnessed a complete transformation in enrollment and community culture! I am so proud to assist schools in rediscovering authentic Catholic education.
CLT: That picture of school revival kind of encapsulates our mission, doesn’t it? Lastly, to close us out, any favorite books or authors that you’d like to recommend to our readers?
CN: Where do I start? The book that never ceases to teach me and delight me is Anne of Green Gables. I also love reading the Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas. J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Mark Twain (especially The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine), Plato, Homer, Virgil, Charles Dickens, and George MacDonald (especially Phantastes) are among my favorites as well. In addition, I adore fairy tales and do leisurely research on archetypes, stories, and all things faerie.