What is the secret of being a good teacher? “You have to love people and help them grow and develop into the kind of person each one is meant to be,” Sister Mary Ann Meyer has said.
Born in 1924, the youngest of four, she knew work on the family farm 17 miles east of Vancouver, Wash., wasn’t for her. She lived for Sundays, and Mass at the parish church in Camas, Wash., where the Sisters of Providence came to teach catechism.
Sister Mary of the Blessed Sacrament made a particularly strong impression, inviting Mary Ann to enroll at Providence Academy in Vancouver (PAV). Mary Ann wanted to go, but not if it committed her to become a sister. Assured that it did not, she enrolled and even taught catechism classes as a sophomore. After graduation in 1943, she was the only entrant from her class.
Known as a teacher’s teacher
After first profession, Sister Mary Ann began 11 delightful years teaching at schools in Yakima, Olympia, Moxee and Walla Walla, Wash.; and Sun Valley, Calif. She was a teacher’s teacher, always exploring new methods and continuing her own learning. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Great Falls (Mont.) in 1955 and a master’s degree in education and curriculum in 1967 from the University of Portland. Time spent in front of a classroom was golden; moves from mission to mission, less so, because of frequent packing and leaving with no chance for goodbyes.
She tried serving as boarding mistress at PAV, but missed the classroom and interacting with younger children. She happily returned to teaching in Yakima, Moxee and Seattle, and then was supervisor of teachers at 11 Providence elementary schools in the former Sacred Heart Province.
Didn’t miss the habit
Sister Mary Ann coordinated the teaching block for prospective teachers through the College of Sister Formation, and then was coordinator of the Title I reading program for the Issaquah school district. Post- Vatican II, she didn’t miss the habit, saying, “I was freer, more comfortable and more myself.”
While serving as a consultant to the Issaquah school district for nine years, she lived in a ground-level apartment in the home of a Lutheran family that became friends. On Sundays she would return to Providence Heights for Mass and to visit with the sisters. One of the highlights of the Issaquah years was visiting British primary schools in Leicestershire, Bristol and Cambridge in 1972 to get ideas about curriculum and teaching methods.
In her later ministry years Sister Mary Ann was religious education director for St. Anthony Parish in Renton, Wash.; and a pastoral associate at St. Mary Parish in Aberdeen, Wash. After her retirement in Olympia, Wash., she volunteered at St. Michael Parish. Today, she resides at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle.