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Sister Linda in the right place
Just a week before Sister Linda Bittner joined the ranks of the Dubois County Retired Teachers Association, she saw a job posting for an instructional assistant at Ferdinand Elementary and sent in an application.
Now in her third year in the position, she loves her new ministry. She says, “I feel this is where I’m meant to be. I saw that ad at just the right time. I know I was supposed to see it.
“I love the job. The kids are so genuine and good. It is a blessing for me to be with them and the staff, too.”
Sister Linda works with students in kindergarten through fourth grade to practice reading and math. Her mornings are filled with second graders coming to her in small groups to review reading comprehension and fluency techniques, as well as other reading skills. Math concepts are also reviewed, but not in a typical, reciting math problems atmosphere. Sister Linda incorporates games to make it fun for the kids.
After helping cover front office duties over lunch, Sister Linda provides intervention to kids in all five grade levels that need extra help with reading skills. A favorite activity of the first grade intervention students is writing dictated sentences from a story on individual white boards. The kids were so excited to share their sentences that they even visited other teachers to show off their work.
Because she enjoys her job so much, Sister Linda says, “I don’t think about being tired until the day is over.” She also enjoys Ferdinand Elementary. “Over the years there’s been a culture of learning, respect, and sharing that all breathe throughout the school. Learning is key, and we do it in a fun way. The kids are involved and engaged in what’s going on.”
At this stage in her life, Sister Linda enjoys working with the younger kids of the elementary school. Throughout her years as a full-time teacher, she taught elementary school 25 years, and English as a Second Language (ESL) to high school and adult students for 16 years.
These younger kids are typically in awe of the idea that Sister Linda lives in a castle, which is how they view the monastery. The second graders visit the monastery on an annual field trip, and Sister Linda always accompanies them. As a Benedictine sister working at school, Sister Linda feels she gives the students exposure to a different lifestyle option. It’s not something she talks about at school, unless specific questions are asked, but she simply provides an example of a vocational path.
People have often commented to Sister Linda that she brings a serenity and calmness to the work site that is much appreciated. She says, “Everyone comes and brings their best in who they are. As a Benedictine sister, I come with the support of over 150 other women, which is nice to know, and I have their prayers and a sense of all of us doing this together. I do my ministry on the shoulders of those who have gone before me and those present today.”
Each morning she prays with her Benedictine family, but first she has a time of personal prayer. She says, “My day starts when I become one with all that is and realize my groundedness in God. It sets the tone for the day.” Sister Linda then walks down the hill to join her school family, carrying with her the peacefulness of knowing her Benedictine life with the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand and her ministry at Ferdinand Elementary are both where God has called her to be.