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Catholic education is her life’s mission

Catholic education is her life’s mission

By Kristen Torres  |  Student reporter

Clinical Associate Professor Lorraine Ozar, PhD, has always had a passion for Catholic education.

She attended Catholic colleges for all of her undergraduate and graduate degrees, and she’s spent her professional career working with Catholic educators across the world. Ozar, who was named the inaugural Andrew M. Greeley Endowed Chair in Catholic Education at Loyola in 2015, has worked as a teacher, school administrator, international speaker, and more since getting her PhD in philosophy from Fordham University.

Here, Ozar talks about her love for Catholic education, why faith-based schools are so important, and what she hopes her students learn after taking one of her classes.

You’ve been involved with Catholic education—and Jesuit schools in particular—for decades. What got you started on that mission?

Although I went to school to study philosophy, by the time I was finishing my degree I knew I wanted to use that training to go into education. The more I worked with faculty in my PhD program, the more passionate I became about teaching and working in PK-12 schools. Catholic education in particular harbors the opportunity to educate the whole student—cognitively, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It touches all the dimensions of the human person.

How did you get your start here at Loyola?

I came to Loyola in 2003 to found and serve as the director of what is now known as the Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education. I was named the first endowed chair of the School of Education in January 2015.

How was your first year as the Andrew M. Greeley Endowed Chair?

It’s been a very exciting experience so far. One of the things I got to do again last semester was teach an undergraduate course in the philosophy of education. It’s been so energizing to get back to those roots and be interacting largely with people who are on the brink of becoming teachers themselves. I’ve also been immersing myself in research. I received a grant to work with Boston College to study the standards and benchmarks for effective Catholic schools. I had the privilege of serving as the lead author and chair of the national task force that created the standards and benchmarks, and now I get to explore how those standards are impacting the Catholic school system across the country. It’s all been very exciting. (Read the entire standards and benchmarks here.)

Why is it so important to develop a curriculum specifically for Catholic schools?

I believe the kinds of relationships that lead to flourishing and growth of the whole person happen best in a faith-based environment—one that allows room for the conviction that we are transcendent people. That’s why I love Loyola. Education here is not just about knowing or doing. It’s about why we’re doing it and how we can serve others and transform our world to be more just and inclusive.

And finally, what are some things you hope your students learn after taking a course with you?

I hope the students I teach in our Catholic cohort programs get a sense of how to incorporate a dimension of deep-set values in their work, integrating Catholic identity and worldview into the way their school operates. I hope these students, along with my non-cohort students, learn how to ask philosophical questions and see where those answers lead. I want them to experience that kind of questioning and make connections to their own values and future professions as early as possible.