Omaha principal brings the stories of Jesus alive for her students
May 4, 2023
St. Bernadette principal Lynn Schultz has twice traveled to the Holy Land, walking the same paths that Jesus walked and visiting many of the places where he lived, preached and was crucified.
During those trips, she rarely took a step without thinking about how to share her journey with her students 6,500 miles away.
Schultz visited the Holy Land in 2018 through the School of Faith, a spiritual formation and personal faith development program funded by the Archdiocese of Omaha as part of the Ignite the Faith Capital Campaign. During that trip, she took pictures of sites that figured heavily in the life of Jesus with the idea of sharing those images and experiences with students at St. Bernadette-Bellevue.
Her hope was that doing so would make Jesus’ life feel more real to them. It worked.
“The kids are all in,” second-grade teacher Betsy Harding said. “They just love it. They are always saying, ‘Can she come back? When’s she coming back again? Can we see some more pictures.’”
After her trip in 2018, Schultz wanted to return to the Holy Land with her husband, John. The couple will celebrate 25 years of marriage this summer. She also wanted to visit some different sites to give her students an even broader look at the places where Jesus spent his time on Earth.
“I thought it would be really beautiful to share that faith walk with John as a married couple,” she said. “I knew we could go to some different places than my last visit, and I could incorporate that into school stuff. So, it was kind of twofold.”
Money was an issue, but when Schultz was honored as an administrator of the year at the Archbishop’s Dinner for Education in September 2022 and received a $5,000 award, everything started falling into place.
“When the award occurred, that was what was the first thing on my heart. I thought, ‘Maybe this is the way that we can go.’ It really helped to finance that trip for us.”
Timing was also an issue. Schultz’s husband also works in education and the tour they wanted to take was in January. As anyone in education knows, taking two weeks off in January is tough. However, they both were able to make it work.
“I really feel like it was God’s timing,” Schultz said. “We had been trying for three years to go and COVID kind of impacted it. And then money. I think it was just God’s will, God’s way, that this was the time to go.”
Schultz’s second trip has brought the life of Jesus further into focus for St. Bernadette students.
“When we pray the decades of the rosaries, we’ll put pictures of the actual places where those things took place, and then I can talk to the kids about that,” Schultz said. “If there’s a reading at Mass that references a place I was and I learned something about it, then I’ll go and talk to them. We did things during Lent where I talked about Calvary and the tomb. I try to incorporate it as much as I can in the classrooms and share as many pictures as possible to make it more real for them.”
Fifth-grade teacher Katie Lawton has used Schultz’s slideshows when her classes pray the rosary.
“After seeing the slides in some of her pictures, the kids had more questions,” Lawton said. “They were curious, they saw pictures and they wanted to know more. It was nice that I could just pull her in, and they could.”
It comes as no surprise to Harding and Lawton that Schultz had her students on her mind even while she was more than 6,000 miles away.
“It’s all about the kids for her,” Harding said.
Harding said that if she brings up a place where Jesus was, the kids will ask, “Does Mrs. Schultz have a picture of that? Did she go there? So, they even bring it up when she’s not around. It’s pretty cool.”
Schultz is thrilled she can “breathe life into the Gospels” for students. She said sharing the experience benefits her, as well.
“When you talk about such an incredible faith walk, you get excited again,” she said. “I feel like I’m there again and I feel those blessings and that joy that I experienced. And that kind of flows through me to the kids and makes it real. It’s not a story. This is a real place. This really happened. He was a real person. It just makes it real.”