Terry Ward of Swissvale lives just up the street from where she works as a teacher at Word of School on McClure Avenue.
Now in her eleventh year of teaching at Word of God, she previously worked as the regional vice president for Tender Care Learning Centers for 17 years and before that, taught at Baldwin-Whitehall School District. Ward teaches middle school language, arts and religion and also is the advisor of the service club at the local Catholic school.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The children—especially middle school kids. A lot of people think I am crazy because they are 13 and 14 year olds, but they can be such a pleasure and they ask such questions and are just so curious. It’s definitely the children.
How is it rewarding for you on a daily basis?
I feel like I am making a difference. Right now, my kids are writing a research paper and it is going to end up being 10 pages long, and they’re a little blown away by that. But, I am taking them step by step and every time I see that lightbulb go on. I do a lot of writing with them and I have seen such improvement. If you can write, you can do just about anything in life. I feel that I am making a difference in what is going to happen to them in the long run.
What sets Word of God apart from other schools?
Besides being a Christian environment, which is a very important aspect, we do so much in the Swissvale community and so much service. The Rotary Club loves us and we are also involved with the Swissvale Economic Development Corporation. We were volunteers of the year one year. I think what sets us apart is that the kids leave Word of God—and they’re still giving back to the community. They’re still involved and they know it’s part of the Christian faith, but they also know it is their responsibility and you can’t just pass it up. I really feel the values they learn here go with them.
Why did you also want to get involved in the service club?
I think it’s because of my faith, but my husband is actively involved in the community as well and sits on the SEDCO board—Tim Ward. He’s on the zoning board in Swissvale and does all of that and they oftentimes have all of these adults with all of these ideas, and they need to reach out and have some worker bees—and we tend to be the worker bees.
When you are service projects with kids, what is it like to see them actively engaged?
It’s fabulous. I can’t even put it into words because they are so into it and the adults love them. They are the servers at the Rotary spaghetti dinner and we helped the borough plant the sunflowers over by the Triangle Bar. People come up to us and say, 'Oh, we love your kids.' It’s nice to get that feeback—but it’s also nice for people to see kids are out there, they are willing to give up their Saturdays and willing to give up their evenings to do that kind of thing.
Do you know a teacher making a difference? Email Stephanie.Rex@Patch.com.