St. Agnes Academy-St. Dominic School Jr. High theology teacher, Julia Schuster, is the 2017 recipient of the Albertus Magnus Award. The award, presented annually by the St. Agnes Academy-St. Dominic School Board of Trustees, recognizes an outstanding educator who demonstrates the four pillars of the Dominican charism - Study, Prayer, Community and Service.
“Mrs. Schuster’s creativity, natural curiosity, and passion draw her students into the joy of learning about their relationship with God,” said Kathy Boccia, Dean, St. Agnes Academy Lower School. “Mrs. Schuster gives her students permission to think, to talk through their ideas, and to be risk takers. They know that she respects them and that she is willing to listen as they grapple with issues that confront them each day. Stepping into her classroom, one can sense that special things are happening that will transform the lives of her students,” said Mrs. Boccia.
When asked to describe her educational philosophy statement Mrs. Schuster wrote, “When I enter a classroom, which stretches far beyond the four walls that contain my desk, I am dressed in a confidence born of much study and preparation and armed with hours of prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
Known as the “global teacher” for many of the initiatives she has started, Mrs. Schuster has made quite an impact on her students since she began teaching at SAA-SDS in 2007. Every year she organizes the 7th grade trip to the Heifer International Global Challenge experience. She is the liaison between St. Agnes-St. Dominic and the Saruwe Junior School in Zimbabwe. She coordinates the Emily Fund collection, which raises money to help feed the students at the Saruwe each day. In addition, she took on the huge task of raising funds to build a much-needed water well on the school’s grounds.
Mrs. Schuster was presented the Elizabeth Anne Seton Award for Teaching Excellence from the Diocese. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree, is a West Tennessee Writing Project fellow and is certified as a State of Tennessee Teacher Consultant through the National Writing Project. She is a member of the Dominican Associates and volunteers regularly with Manna House. She is an active parishioner at St. Louis Catholic Church where she is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and a Sacristan. A talented writer she has published two books, Flowers for Elvis, a novel set in Memphis, and The Ingredients of Gumbo, a short story and poetry collection. She is also a writer for diocesan West Tennessee Faith Magazine. She and her husband Peter have a daughter, Mary Kate, who is a graduate of St. Agnes Academy.