Ellen Finnigan: Faculty Address (Graduation 2022)

Hi, everybody. My name is Mrs. Finnigan, and I'm so happy to be here with you today. Can you hear me? Okay. Okay, great. I feel like it's going to topple over. All right. So thank you so much to Mrs. Lengyel, for inviting me to speak here today. I'm super nervous and super excited. This is so much fun. Is it not? Oh, my goodness.

I cannot tell you I'm over the moon to be here. I just I can't I just want to look at you. I hope that's not creepy or anything. I do. I'm just like, they're real girls and boys. Like, I love you. But I've taught some of these students for four years, I have the pleasure of teaching ninth grade, 11th grade and 12th grade. So I can see them coming in as freshmen and leave as the beautiful and amazing young men and women that they are.

Actually some of you I've known since eighth grade because you were bright eyed and bushy tailed eighth graders that wanted to be in the newsletter club. Yeah, so we let you in. So it's been a pleasure. And actually, some of the families here tonight, I've known for almost a decade, because I've taught some of your older siblings. And each fall, it's kind of fun to look at my roster and go, oh, there was another one. There's another one. And they keepcoming through my classes. And so it's just it's so much fun.

Um, let's see what? Yes. Oh, I was going to say a joke here. Yeah, so I really love online teaching. But a lot of people often say to me, they say, "It's not the same, though, right? I mean, those kids, they, they never leave their basement, right? I mean, they're homeschooled." And I say, "No, it's, it's fantastic. We make friends and we bond and we really create memories together, don't we?" Except there's one thing that brick-and-mortar schools do better, which is that in a brick and mortar school,you can actually see how tall people are. And in an online school, everybody's the same height. So you get to one of these events, and it's like, "Oh, Hi, Paul."


It's a little bit nostalgic for me to be here today because I actually graduated from high school in 1996 in Atlanta, so I'm remembering what it was like to be in your shoes all those many years ago. And I actually started teaching the Kolbe curriculum here in Atlanta as well. And I taught for a little hybrid school for a year and I was teaching the Kolbe curriculum. So this feels very full-circlely to me.

And I was trying to think about what I wanted to say. And I think that what I want to say is that this is extraordinary. You are extraordinary. All of you, your families, your parents, this school, I feel so blessed. It's not easy, what we ask you to do. That Edgar Allan Poe recitation, Katherine, that was some serious business right there. And you guys have pulled through what we've asked you to write, the reading that we've asked you to do. I mean, fifty pages a week just for my classes, I don't even know what you're doing in their classes. So it really is the focus and the discipline that it's taken you all to get here. It really is something to be admired. And you made it so proud of you.


If you think about it, what percentage of people in this world really have an education? Right? If you think about all the people that never even have that at all. And then when you think about the fact that you have a classical education, where you actually get to learn, you know, the history of Western civilization, Homer, Herodotus, Shakespeare, Dante, Virgil, Plato. And then to know the Faith, the foundation that all of you have in the faith, I can't tell you how many times you've been sitting in class, and you have taught me something about our Faith––a lot, it's been a lot.

So to have the classical component, I just imagine, you know, the breadth and the scope of your understanding of the history of our culture and the perspective that you can bring. So when you hear about Jesus coming into the world, you can put that in some kind of context. And so when he says, "Behold, I am doing something new," you can actually know what that means. "There is nothing new under the sun," as they say. And so with your classical studies, you know that human nature never changes. So the only thing new is really the Good News, right? The Good News. So I look at you and I think about your cultural literacy and your historical understanding and the knowledge of our Faith that you have, and I envisioned myself in your seat 1996, and comparatively speaking, I mean, I was basically raised by wolves, okay? I was out there in the secular jungle with a machete just like trying to clear a path and make my way and figure out where I was going.

And so you really do have so much to be grateful for. So I just ask that you recognize that it really is extraordinary, what you've accomplished. It's extraordinary the blessings that you have with your education. And I just ask that you find a way to share that with others as you go forward with the people out there in the jungle. They need you they need your light, they need you to share what you know.

There's one thing that we don't do well here though, at Kolbe Academy, which is it's not super classical, because actually a real classical education, you know, Aristotle studied with Plato, until he was thirty-five. And so, I propose that we start Miss Gribble or miss Finnigan's Academy. Right? You guys can just stay with me. You know, sign up at the back of the Church or when we're done. No, it's hard to say goodbye. It really is hard to say goodbye. But I know you guys are going to go on to do amazing things.

To appreciate how far you've come, I thought it might be kind of fun to take a look back at where you started. So I know you guys know that we clear the chat box at the end of every class, right? Well, before we do that, we have to email it to ourselves. So I have your chats going back to 2018. Would you care to hear a few of them?

Now, I could share with you some of the chat box comments from when we were in class and you were making your brilliant commentary and your amazing observations that just blew my mind every day. But I really prefer the pre-chat chats the pre class chat. So here's a little bit of reminiscing that we can do.

While we were reading the Iliad, Devon Freeson said: "My question is How on earth did they fight in those flimsy sandals and short skirts?"

Lauren Grasso, I found your first ever class that you were in with me.


Lauren Grasso: "Hi, Mrs. Finnegan I was one of your shadow students. High recording! *waves* Mrs. Finnigan, have you ever been a teacher in real life?"


Nope, just been a-fake teachin' and all these years.

Joseph Poff: "Don't cry. There are no bodies on the floor."

Thomas Sherman: "Real men don't cry."

Miriam Youngman: "Real men do cry. Jesus cried."

Maria Sankeralli: "^^"

Anna Prostejovsky: "^^^"

Thomas Sherman: "Okay. Yeah, right. You win."


Here's one from Ezekiel: "Anyone remember that one dude who lost his hands and then his feet and then his legs and then his arms and then He was whipped and decapitated? Oh, wait, never mind. That was ancient Greek history."


Liam Federoff: "Mrs. Finnigan, my mic is broken so I won't be able to talk today and be my usual charismatic self.


Matthew Ho: "The new Adobe allows emojis in the chat without messing things up."

Yakob Kelly: "Yes!

Aidan Kavanagh: "The armor is a prize, a memento not so much a practical tool."


Aiden, did you really write that in ninth grade? That was pretty good. I hope I gave you good participation points for that.


Paul Cassar: "In my case, I thought I knew what Mrs. Finnigan would pick for the essay prompt. So I prepared sooooo well for a certain prompt even memorizing a bunch of quotes only to find that she didn't pick the prompt that I was sure she would."

Anna Hsu: "That's annoying.

Paul Cassar: "Very annoying."

You guys knew I was sitting right there right?


Practicing thesis statement,

Eliza: "Oedipus Rex is a bad play because it does not fulfill the criteria or fails to mention it explicitly."

Malia Sevigny: "Aristotle's criteria for a good play is unfulfilled by the play Oedipus Rex making it a bad play."

Elena Bull: "The lack of bacon and Oedipus Rex is unacceptable.

And we also shared a lot of important life events, didn't we?

Devyn Fresson: "So those of you who aren't in the school chat did you know I finally got a chinchilla?"

Mrs. Finnegan: "What is a chinchilla? Is that a monkey?"

Anyway, so I hope you enjoyed that little walk down memory lane. The last thing I want to impart to you is just is just to keep your eye on the ball as you go forward. And remember what's most important, which is getting "raymic" in the dictionary? Okay, we got to do this you guys. Michael Williams is here. He graduated a few years ago, his class didn't do it. Collette's here, her class didn't do it. You guys have to do it.

Alright, so anyway, for those of you who don't know, a "raymic" is a word, we came up with the Kolbe online to explain when a student accidentally puts their hand up in class. So if I call on them, sometimes they say, oh, "raymic", and so I know they didn't mean to raise their hand. Well, back when I was you know, a few years ago when you guys were freshmen, you know, you would say, "Oh, raymic," and I'd go, "Oh, it's okay. You don't have to answer the question. I'll call on someone else. "But then I just got mean, and you would go, "Oh, raymic." And I'd go, "That's okay, you can try to answer anyway. Let's hear it, what you got?" "Ahh, I didn't mean to raise my hand Mrs. Finnigan."

So did you guys know I realized over Easter that the first "raymic" is actually in the Gospels. Anyone? Anyone have an answer? You can just you can raise your hand or just enter it in the chat box. Anything? All right, let me let me refresh your memory. Luke 23:26, "As they led him away, they took hold of a certain Simon a Cyrenian who was coming in from the country. And after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. Simon looked up to the heavens and said, 'God, my cat just stepped on my spacebar...I didn't mean to sign up for this.'" And God said, "That's okay. I'm calling on you anyway."

I was never intending to be a teacher, actually, I just kind of fell into this. Mrs. Lengyel, called me one day, and knew I was teaching in a hybrid school. And she said, "Do you want to come teach for our online school?" And I said, "I don't think I can. I don't have a degree in education." And she said, "Ellen, these are homeschooling parents, do you think they care?" Come to think of it, she said, "Yeah, they didn't go out and get, you know, degrees in education before they decided to start educating their children." And I said, "I think I'm going to like these people. Yeah, I want to do this."

I was coming down here yesterday from Colorado, and I met a man on the plane. And he was sitting next to me, his name was Larry. And he was on his way here because his son was in a motorcycle accident. And he was at the Good Shepherd, physical therapy down by Grady Hospital. And he said, Yeah, he said, "I'm 80 years old, my son is 52. And I don't really want to be here. I don't really want to go, I'm going to go, he's my son. But I'm a gardener. You know, it's the spring I'm ready to get my garden going." And he said, "You know what? My sister, my daughter in law and my wife, they're really up to something here because you know what? They got me a one-way ticket. And they were going to bring him home and they brought him a hospital bed to have at home and he was going to need 24/7 care." And I thought to myself, "Wow, that's a raymic." He didn't mean to raise his hand for that. And I can tell that he wanted to be home. But he was going to go and he was going to take care of his son.

And so I just I want you to think about that as you go forward, you guys. Make your plans, pave your path, dream your dreams, but always be ready and open for God's call because you never know when your cat is going to step on your spacebar. I love you good luck!

Mrs. Ellen Finnigan

Kolbe Online Instructor

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Kolbe Academy