Educator Jacob Flaherty, Religious studies, St. Mary's School

What inspired you to become a teacher?

“My inspiration to become a teacher came from five of my favorite teachers: Mrs. Walker (fifth grade), Mr. Schmall (middle school choir), Mr. Fitzgerald (11th grade English), Mr. Blongien (10th and 12th grade Theology) and Mrs. Katzke (10th and 11th grade math). All of these teachers, in their own way and in their own subject area, made learning interesting and really seemed to care about me as a person. They respected my strengths, but also my weaknesses, and didn’t make me struggle with my identity. They reached out of the comfort of staying ‘in the book’ and helped me get out of my comfort zone. By doing this they really seemed to manifest the loving presence of God.”

What is most challenging as a teacher? Why?

“Names–I really struggle with them, but I can remember a face for years. I’ve run across students from eight years ago and I can still remember their faces. I’ll do my best, but don’t take it personally if I ask a few times! ” 

What teaching moment is most memorable?

“I was teaching religion and vocal music at another Catholic high school. A senior, who was quite the football player with maybe not the greatest singing voice, was the lead in the spring musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” He was chosen for his great acting presence on stage, and not necessarily his voice. We practiced together for this role as I was trying to help him with all of the challenging vocal sections of the musical. Seeing how well he did and how much he grew in confidence was a very rewarding experience for me. Secondly, at the same school I was teaching Sacred Scripture to sophomores. There was this particularly kind young man who definitely appearing interested in the Faith, but was surrounded by peers who were much more apathetic. I found out later that he had gotten his Catholic Studies degree from the University of St. Thomas. It is always a great thing to hear what my former students are up to and how they made use of the great talents God gave them.” 

More about Jacob

Age: 31

Experience: This will be Jacob’s ninth year of teaching.

Hometown: Jacob was born and raised in St. Paul near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Education: Jacob received degrees in vocal music education, Catholic studies and philosophy from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Family: “I am the proud husband to Esther (Deutsch) Flaherty, a native of Watertown, S.D. We have a daughter, Mariana, who is two-years-old and a son, Joseph, who is eight-months-old. “