Newman alumna receives Catholic teaching award

Feb 28, 2019
Bridget Yates receives teaching award

Bridget Yates graduated from Newman University with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education in 2010. Just nine years later, she was given some very good news — she would be the recipient of the St. John Neumann Award for distinguished teaching in a rural diocesan school.

Named for St. John Neumann, the American founder of the parochial school system in Philadelphia, the teaching award is given annually during Catholic Schools Week, which this year was held Jan. 27 to Feb. 2.

Yates, a kindergarten teacher in Augusta, Kansas, said she found out she would receive the honor on the first day of that week. Along with feeling honored and humbled, she said she was definitely shocked to hear the news — and not quite picture-ready.

“It was crazy hat day and I was wearing a giant squid hat on my head. I was not prepared to say the least.”

Yates gives credit to her Newman education for helping her become the teacher she is today.

“My professors taught us how to be great teachers by modeling in the way they treated us and took us under their wings,” said Yates. “I will forever be grateful to Karen Rogers, Joan Purkey, Gary Wilkerson, and all the rest.”

Yates will teach middle school in the 2019-20 academic year. She said her favorite part of teaching is seeing children grow into disciples of Jesus.

Outside of the classroom, she stays busy volunteering for organizations such as the Little Flowers Girls Club, Blue Knights Boys Club, Little Women Hospitality Club, the St. Cecilia Choir and student council.

Leaving a lasting impression on her students is something Yates said she strives for.

“I hope I am planting seeds for my students as little ones. And next year as I move up to middle school, I am thankful I get to help them continue to grow into disciples of Christ.

“If anyone is feeling the call to be a Catholic school teacher, just spend one day in a Catholic school. You will feel God’s presence in everything we do. We teach to the spirit of the child, and there is no greater reward to lead others closer to our Heavenly Father.”