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When Teaching Paths Crisscross

Preston Romanov and Damarcus Wilson, Staff Reporters

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Ms. Debbie Walling

More than just a similar mission connects a Catholic high school on Dixie Highway with the Rocks from Trinity.

At least eight current Trinity teachers have connections with Holy Cross High School.

The only coed Catholic high school in Jefferson County, Holy Cross in 1984 brought together students from the all-male Bishop David and the all-female Angela Merici.

Three Trinity teachers were interviewed about their time as teachers at Holy Cross — Ms. Debbie Walling, Mr. Bernie Schum and Mr. Patrick Heintz.

Walling taught at Holy Cross for 16 years. She witnessed the merger of Angela Merici and Bishop David.  Having taught at Angela Merici for three years before the creation of Holy Cross, Walling experienced the full transition of the school from single gender to coed.

Walling described the transition “as a really exciting time when creating Holy Cross. The whole community was involved, and students at Angela Merici and Bishop David could not wait to merge.”

Walling told of the enjoyment the students had while voting for the new school mascot, colors, theme, motto and emblem.

Walling said she truly “loves the Catholic school environment,” where she is free to talk about prayer, God, values, and morals of the Church.

What Walling liked most about Holy Cross was that “it was a very small school, and everyone knew each other.” 

Both schools are wonderful. The kids are the best thing about everything.”

— Trinity teacher Ms. Debbie Walling

After a period of time, Walling said, there was a point where “Holy Cross enrollment was not doing too well and there were fears of a shutdown.”

Walling began searching for teaching positions at local schools and applied to Trinity. She described her transition to Trinity as “a very difficult decision” because she loved Holy Cross and all the students there.

Before she left Holy Cross, Walling’s  students gave her gifts to take home and put in her new classroom at Trinity. Despite the challenge of going to a much bigger school, Walling loved the opportunities Trinity offered.

Mr. Bernie Schum

She said at first “it was such a big change, and no one knew who I was here.” Walling was so used to “having students stop by her classroom after school for a chat.”

Walling tells of an important moment in her adjustment to the changes. She said I taught “this one senior class, and they were tough. I remembered I cried and had to go out in the hallway. One of the kids came out and said, ‘Ms. Walling, we are so sorry; we’re acting like babies. If you would come back in, we will do anything you ask us to do.’ That was a big moment for me.”

Walling said she sees at Trinity the same kind of respect among students she saw at Holy Cross, but there is less “drama” in a single-gender environment.

Walling said, “Both schools are wonderful. The kids are the best thing about everything.”

She said her students are the driving motivation that makes her love going to work and being a teacher. She’s very happy to be at Trinity and still has a special place in her heart for Holy Cross.

Mr. Patrick Heintz

Schum taught at Holy Cross for seven years. He looks back at his time at Holy Cross as having the opportunity for “discussing faith, God and values” in a Catholic system — something he has continued as a theology teacher at Trinity.

Schum came to Trinity in the fall of 2004 and immediately fell in love with the school. He was impressed with “the environment, the availability of technology, more funding, and access to students.”

Heintz, who taught at Holy Cross for only one year said he loved the “family” atmosphere at Holy Cross. He spoke of founding the wrestling team there.

Schum actually encouraged Heintz, a science teacher, to check out Trinity. Of Trinity, Heintz said he “loves the diversity of guys coming from all over the city of Louisville, the block schedule here at Trinity and the technology.”

Very impressed with Trinity’s academics and athletics, Heintz still remembers when his wrestling Holy Cross Cougars defeated DeSales and feeling “proud of the team and guys that had never wrestled before.”

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When Teaching Paths Crisscross