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DREAM JOB IS ELEMENTARY

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November 18, 2022

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Fourth-grade teacher's dream of a career goes from playing pro volleyball to teaching at a Catholic, Marist, International Baccalaureate grade school — and she couldn't be any happier.

Fourth-grade teacher Caitlin LaPratt said that upon first arriving on the Notre Dame campus, she was impressed with how well the students behaved, followed COVID protocols and was grateful for the warm reception she received from the staff.


Becoming a teacher wasn't on the long-term career horizon for a young Caitlin LaPratt. In fact, it was her love of volleyball back then that likely was going to be paying the bills when she grew up.

Or so she thought.

"If you were to ask me at 15 years old what my dream job was going to be, I would have said professional volleyball player," said LaPratt, who is in her third year of teaching at Notre Dame. "I realized pretty quickly that I probably wasn't going to grow much taller and should come up with a different plan."

While her plan B was teaching, volleyball continued to inform ultimately how that plan was going to roll out.

LaPratt also coaches varsity volleyball at Eisenhower High School in Utica.


"My passion for teaching really began as soon as I graduated high school and landed my first volleyball coaching job," she said. "I knew then that I loved teaching, even though I wasn't in a classroom. I thought that leading kids was what I was meant to do."

LaPratt later graduated from Oakland University with a bachelor's degree in education and a major in language arts, but she took a job in the marketing/service industry.

"Sometimes life takes you on a different path and although you may not understand it then, you have to have faith that God has a plan," she said. "While I was very committed in my previous position, I always felt like something was missing. I continued to search for teaching opportunities and in the fall of 2020, I was welcomed to Notre Dame Lower School as the new fourth grade teacher."

It was an exciting time for LaPratt, and one that may be remembered forever — well, at least as long as her current phone data lasts.

"I will never forget the moment I received the email and then the phone call following my interview with Mrs. Atkins," she recalled. "In fact, I still have the voicemail saved on my phone."

She says it's been smooth sailing since then and truly enjoys teaching at Notre Dame Lower School.

"I was very impressed with how well the students behaved, followed COVID protocols and was grateful for the warm reception I received from the staff," she recalled when she first set foot on campus. "I felt that everyone was truly invested in the students as well as in helping me become successful. I am very grateful to work alongside wonderful teachers, especially my fourth-grade teaching partner, Kathy Dugan. I wouldn't be where I am today without her guidance."

Meanwhile, when LaPratt's not on the NDPMA campus, especially around this time of year, you'd more than likely find her in the Utica Eisenhower High School gym where she currently leads the school's volleyball program after 22 years (Macomb County D1 coach of the year 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020).

Another huge part of her life is her family, she says. 

"Between my husband, Jeff, who's also a teacher, and my two kids, Vince and Mia, we probably play or coach about every sport in the state," she said. "And for those who don't know, my husband also coaches high school volleyball at a different school in the same school district, which has been a fun topic in my classroom this year!"

LaPratt is with husband, Jeff, and children Vince and Mia.


Now, as Notre Dame heads toward the halfway point of the school year, LaPratt is completely convinced her "plan B" has worked out extremely well. 

"I believe strongly in the Catholic mission of our school and I remain truly inspired by its IB principles," she said. "The most important part of my job is to live up to that mission by teaching my students to open up their hearts to the Lord and that what they're learning each day will make a positive difference in the world."
 

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

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 schools 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 National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.