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The student news site of Dowling Catholic High School

The Dowling Catholic Post

The student news site of Dowling Catholic High School

The Dowling Catholic Post

A Few Faculty Facts about First Year at Dowling

R. Leman
Mrs. Umstead works at her computer during one of her classes.

With only two months left of the school year, most people are beginning to think about summer and what it brings for them. For our many new teachers and faculty members here at Dowling, this summer will mark the end of their first full school year teaching at our school. 

Since many students know very little about what their teachers and staff members do, I decided to write this article about some of the newest teachers here at Dowling and what their first year has been like mountains, valleys, and anything in between.

Mrs. Umstead teaches English 11, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Journalism for Dowling. Before coming to teach at Dowling she spent nine years teaching at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic School. “I was ready for something new and fresh,” says Umstead. “I am a Dowling grad and I have kids who currently attend Dowling. It felt like coming home.” 

Umstead subbed at Dowling last school year, making the transition much easier for her. She says, “The English Department has been so supportive and considerate, helping me adjust easily to teaching at Dowling.” 

However, teaching is not an easy job in any way. “My biggest challenge has been making sure I don’t let any kids slip through the cracks,” Umstead states. 

Being a teacher was not always part of Umstead’s plans for her future. There was a point when she was interested in being a veterinarian, but during high school, she had several teachers who inspired her to be a teacher. “They made English so much fun,” Umstead reminisces, “I then realized that is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

Jon Wisneski is one of the many new faculty members on the Faith Ministry side of things. He is the male Ut Fidem coordinator. Being and Ut Fidem coordinator is a crucial job but few students are aware of what they do on a day-to-day basis. 

“The biggest part of my job,” says Wisneski, “Is meeting students and trying to raise interest in the Ut Fidem small group ministry.” The rest of his day fills up quickly between networking and meeting with potential mentors from the Catholic community of Des Moines, and training them to be able to lead groups. 

Wisneski has found that the most challenging part of the job for him is all the behind-the-scenes work that he does. “That kind of work is important to keep the ministry running smoothly,” Wisneski concedes, “But I don’t get to see students very often. However, it has made me work harder to connect with the students.” 

Wisneski’s path to this job at Dowling was long and winding. He attended the University of Iowa, studied finance, and played on the football team. After Iowa, he decided to go back to school to get a bachelor’s degree in theology at St. Thomas College. 

“My faith was not a big part of my life until college. It took me a few years to figure out how much God meant to me but once I found him, my life was changed. I spent several months discerning whether I was being called to the priesthood because I was ready to give everything to God.” Wisneski remembers. 

Wisneski came back to Des Moines and started looking for jobs in the area. “I saw this one come up and I knew it was perfect,” He declared, “With my background here at Dowling it felt like coming home.”

Wendy Raftery student taught at Dowling for a few months with Ms. Otten. “I teach PreCalc, Geometry, Algebra 1, and Algebra 2, so I get the whole package,” she says. 

Raftery didn’t plan on being a teacher until just a few years ago. She got a degree from Drake and accepted a job in the finance field as an actuary. “It didn’t take me very long to realize that this was not what I wanted to do with my life.”

After taking some time off to figure out what she might want to do for her future career, Raftery decided to go back to school and get her master’s degree in education, specifically high school math classes. 

“I went into my classes slightly unsure if I had made the right choice,” Raftery recalls, “The second I walked into my classes though, I was positive that I had chosen the right path. I’ve never looked back and it’s been the best decision of my life.”

Raftery gave ISU her preferences for private or Catholic schools in the Des Moines area, and so was assigned to Dowling. “My next school is ADM,” Raftery explains. “I will finish out the semester there and I’ll also be looking for a permanent job.”

“I love teaching so much,” Raftery exclaims. “It is all about inspiring kids. I think that especially for math most kids have confidence issues and that is where my job comes in because every student is capable of doing difficult things you just have to believe in yourself.”

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About the Contributor
Ruby Leman
Ruby Leman, Staff Writer
Ruby Leman is currently a sophomore at Dowling Catholic. Ruby is involved in Show Choir, Ut Fidem, and varsity track. In her free time, Ruby enjoys reading, spending time with her little siblings, and listening to music. Her favorite musician is Taylor Swift and her favorite movie is Clueless. This is Ruby’s first year in the Dowling Catholic Post, and she is very excited to be part of it!

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