‘Lessons from an Invisible Child’

St. Bernard welcomes keynote speaker Jenny Nolen

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St. Bernard Prep School CEO Jim Miller and St. Bernard President/Headmaster Fr. Joel Martin, OSB, thank Jenny Nolen for her in-service presentation. (Contributed)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In preparation for the 2022-23 academic year at St. Bernard Prep, all teachers and staff members recently spent three days in meetings, professional development and their classrooms, anticipating the arrival of more than 130 students.

Cullman’s nationally known speaker, Jenny Nolen, traveled from her home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to deliver a fun-loving, funny message recanting her life story, titled “Lessons from an Invisible Child.”

Nolen finds plenty of humor in everyday living and told those in attendance that sometimes all we have to do is sit back, observe and listen. However, when it comes to children, adult roles must change to become caring, loving and selfless.

Her young life experiences were less than perfect; Nolen experienced trauma and hard knocks that most couldn’t imagine.  From living in a children’s home and returning to a home with a mom who suffered physically and mentally, Nolen used humor as a way to overcome her many obstacles. She shared several examples of people in her life who had a great impact on her.

The are many ways to influence young minds by just being observant.  Teachers have a special gift and can detect when something is going on with a child just simply by listening. 

“You impact the life of each child by what you say, what you do, what you wear and how you respond. Time is precious, and it carries a sense of urgency in everything we do,” Nolen said.  “We can’t waste one minute doing anything other than helping them.”

The presentation touched on the role of social media in the lives of children.  Often children/students share everything digitally, which has the potential for many challenges.  When mishaps happen in this digital world, it may have a negative impact on our children and their sense of worth.  Social media interactions create digital footprints and must be monitored by loving and caring adults. 

“Be role models for students by being leaders through faith and scholarship,” she said.

Following the presentation everyone gathered in the Abbey Church for Mass.  Lunch was served in the dining hall, followed by group sessions dealing with bullying, harassment and re-recruiting students.

Thursday’s sessions included topics of student discipline, role of leadership teams, volunteerism, student/teacher relations and mandatory reporting.  Other housekeeping reviews included the faculty/staff handbook and emergency “red bag” procedures.

CEO Jim Miller and President Fr. Joel Martin, OSB, presided over the meetings.

Saint Bernard greeted students Sunday, Aug. 14, and began classes Monday morning.