2020 Resource Contest Winners
The Office of Life and Human Dignity is committed to engaging educators to promote a culture of life, and we are incredibly grateful for the many wonderful submissions we received from hardworking teachers!
Unit/Lesson Resource Winners
First place ($750): John Brahier, Divine Child High School, Dearborn, MI
John Brahier teaches theology at Divine Child High School. He joined the staff in August of 2017. He has a Master of Education from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame.
Entry: “Exploring China’s One-Child Policy with Exponential and Logarithmic Functions”
What is (was) China’s one-child policy? Why was it instituted in the first place? Is it a morally acceptable policy from a Catholic worldview? These questions and more will be addressed in this unit, which will transform a “normal” high school math unit about exponential and logarithmic functions into an exploration of China’s one-child policy. Ultimately, this unit will lead students to understand the horrors of the one-child policy, primarily the repulsive practice of forced abortions, while simultaneously building computational and conceptual skills related to exponential and logarithmic functions.
“My mathematics courses in high school never engaged the heart. Mathematics was always an objective 'puzzle to solve.' This unit is great; it reveals the humanity behind stark numbers. The mathematics here has the ability to spark substantive conversation. This data, coupled with the curated resources on Catholic teaching, provide a great catalyst for growth in high school youth.” -Judge’s Comments
Second place ($450): Jim Remillard, Saint John Paul II High School, Hyannis, MA
Jim Remillard is the Department Chair of Science at Saint John Paul II High School. He received his certification in health care ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in 2010.
Entry: “True Dignity in Dying”
Physicians Assisted Suicide (PAS) and euthanasia have been contentiously debated nationally since PAS was first legalized in Oregon in 1994. Driving the debate are advances in life sustaining technology and medical practices that can greatly prolong life. Yet prolonging life is not the same as curing the patient of their underlying pathology. Today’s teenagers almost certainly will be confronted at some point in their lives with end-of-life decisions as our knowledge, technology, and medical practices advance along with escalating costs and limited health resources and facilities. The goal for this unit is to offer young people a solid moral foundation and a clear perspective on how to safeguard the sanctity and dignity of all human life by distinguishing between killing the dying and the licit removal or withholding of life sustaining measures.
“This unit is a nearly seamless integration of ‘hard’ science and ethical considerations from the Catholic Church with an attention to the heart and faith of the student.” -Judge’s Comments
Curriculum Resource Winners
First place ($300): Kevin Zenner, Saint Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights, MN
Since 1995, Kevin Zenner has been working at Saint Thomas Academy. Currently, he is the Department Chair of Theology, a middle school tennis coach, and moderates the Table Tennis Club.
Entry: “Get a Job! Project”
Many students don’t fully comprehend how far a paycheck needs to stretch and think that those who are homeless could just get a job at McDonald’s. This project has students find an actual advertised job for a fictitious Mary with her two children. They must also find health care (online) and account for groceries for a week based on a developed menu, daycare and a vehicle to transport the family. Once they go through this project, they realize that a fast-food salary can not even pay for daycare for the children. This leads to discussions on how to help those who are poor, how to help with daycare, obtaining additional education, and what the state should do to try to keep the children out of the cycle of poverty.
“This project is an immersive experience into how many factors play a role in helping someone find meaningful work. It will help students acknowledge realities about their own communities and help them learn to engage this issue with empathy and understanding.” -Judge’s Comments
Second place ($100): Brian Crossen, Bishop Feehan High School, Attleboro, MA
Brian Crossen, a chemistry teacher, has taught at Bishop Feehan for 14 years. He earned a master’s degree in education through Providence College’s Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) Program.
Entry: “Climate Change Investigation”
With this project students investigate both the scientific and moral aspects of climate change. From a scientific perspective, students will answer questions such as: What three molecules are considered to be greenhouse gases? What evidence proves that climate change is caused by human activity? How do we know that this evidence is trustworthy and reliable? From a Catholic perspective, students will answer questions such as: According to the Catholic Church, why is climate change a moral issue? What are five sociological effects that climate change has on humanity, including the poor, minority groups, and other countries? Finally, students will describe specific actions that can help combat climate change in the local community.
“The project is clearly structured to help students feel hope and a possibility to act to effect positive change.” -Judge’s Comments
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