In this month’s “Ministry of the Month” we are featuring La Salle Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is part of the District of Eastern North America. Jake Remsing and Davina Runkaputi are second-year Lasallian Volunteers (LVs). Davina and Jake are 2018 graduates of Saint Mary’s College of California.
What is La Salle Academy?
La Salle Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an independent Catholic elementary school conducted in the traditions of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. In the tradition of these communities, La Salle Academy is dedicated to educating children in grades three through eight whose potential is limited by financial, social, academic or emotional challenges, and whose parents or guardians desire, but cannot afford, a Catholic education. La Salle Academy provides small class size (no more than 15), an extended day and year, and the academic, social and spiritual supports necessary for students to become successful lifelong learners. With a strong awareness of Christ in themselves and in others, La Salle Academy students and graduates are confident of their own self-worth and responsive to the communities in which they live.
How did Jake and Davina learn about Lasallian Volunteers?
Davina had the opportunity to participate in Saint Mary’s College of California’s Lasallian Service Internship (LSI) during her undergraduate career where she spent the month of January serving at De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, Montana. During her time in Browning, Davina had the opportunity to interact and connect with the LVs serving there, live in community and learn more intentionally learn about the program. Being part of a program that was highly invested in serving others was an important factor for Jake as service has always been an important part of his life. Having the opportunity to grow professionally and personally really informed his decision to become a Lasallian Volunteer.
What are the services Jake and Davina provide at La Salle Academy?
Jake serves as the physical education teacher and classroom assistant. Davina serves as the assistant art teacher and tutor. Both enter into each school day ready to take on additional responsibilities. Every day is different, and La Salle Academy relies on the LVs being flexible, creative and open to jumping in at a moment’s notice to help out.
How do Davina and Jake touch minds and hearts of those entrusted to their care?
Davina has learned the importance of being present to her students. For LVs who have the opportunity to return to their ministries for a second year learn that “the most important things I think my students need from me are consistency and motivation. Someone to guide and support them get their work done and succeed.” Jake has been most impacted by being a listening ear and helping them when they are struggling: “From what I’ve seen with the third graders I work with, having that extra attention from somebody really helps to motivate them.”
Which of our core values of Lasallian Volunteers is most important to Davina and Jake?
“It’s hard to just choose one that is most important to me because currently service and community are both the most important and for me their interrelated,” shares Davina. “Service is a big part of my everyday life. I love the students I work with and see every day. Service definitely has its challenging moments but I look forward to the challenge, so next time I can better improve what’s needed for my students. I think community and service are interrelated because if I wasn’t serving at La Salle Academy, I may not have gotten the chance to be in community with the Brothers, and I wouldn’t have been able to create a community with the LSA family.” Jake finds community deeply important: “Working with others and having a place to share our successes and our challenges is powerful to me. Having community members and Brothers to talk to, ask advice and work with has helped me to succeed in my work and at my site.”
What would Jake and Davina offer as advice to someone discerning a year of service?
Jake and Davina suggest that someone discerning a year of service considers it with an open mind and much motivation and enthusiasm. Jake shares, “It’s so worth it. There will definitely be moments that are challenging but the feeling of purpose and motivation that comes with it is so powerful. It may be an opportunity to discern a future career for yourself, but it is also a serious commitment to those you serve.” For Davina, she invites you to “learn more about the community and population you will be working with; if you have questions ask away; be patient with not only the people you work with but the students or people you will be serving; self-care is not selfish; and remember you are here for the people you are serving.”