‘Doing the work of Mary’ in the lower school

Longtime lower-school teacher says teaching students the skills to be lifelong learners and good Christian people is most important to her.

When Notre Dame's lower school opened in the fall of 2004 in only its second year of existence, one of the staffers on hand that day was second-grade teacher Kimberly Kriesel, who had recently graduated from college. Since that day, Kriesel has been a mainstay at the school, 10 years in front of second graders and currently in her fifth year teaching first graders.

For Kriesel, working with young children has been a career goal going back to her high school days.

"I have always enjoyed being around children," said the Oakland University (BS) and Marygrove College (MAT) grad who's taught at camps, preschools and Catechism classes throughout high school and college. "The kids are so full of life and happiness, and truly are genuine and love learning. I love learning myself so being able to teach and encourage children to learn is a perfect fit for me."

Teaching at a school like Notre Dame also seemed to be the perfect fit for her from the very beginning.

"When I first got here, the atmosphere was so welcoming, she said. "The staff and students were so kind and helpful and everyone seemed genuinely happy to be here."

Kriesel also has no doubt about her primary role as a teacher at Notre Dame.

"The most important part of my job here at school is teaching my students skills to be lifelong learners and to be good Christian people," she said. "Academics are important, but being kind and compassionate is just as important. I love our Marist virtue this school year of 'Doing the work of Mary,' and cultivating those special values of love and caring." 

One of the second graders this year who has already benefited from Kriesel's good work is her son, Liam, who's been in the lower school since PK3. Her daughter, Helena, currently is in PK4. Their mother (and father, Jesse) can't think of any place better for their own children.

"Obviously, I have loved Notre Dame for a long time and now my children are able to experience how wonderful it is," she said. "Their other teachers have been outstanding and they take the time to know them not only as a student but as person. They've learned their likes and interests and always seem to find creative ways to incorporate them into lessons to make learning fun. I feel very blessed to have our kids at this school."

Now well-entrenched in a career that seems tailor-made for Kriesel, we nonetheless wondered what she might be doing if she wasn't teaching. Her answer is not surprising.

"I’d probably be working in ministry or at another nonprofit, to be quite honest," she said. "Helping the homeless also has always been important to me. I love the idea of providing service opportunities to children, which, fortunately, in addition to my teaching responsibilities, I'm able to do at NDPMA. I think it’s important to plant that 'service to others' seed while they are still very young."

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three school are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org