By: Leslie Sholly
Every October, we team up with the Institute for Excellence in Writing to host a Pro-Life Essay Contest. Our judges look forward to reading the hundreds of incredible essays we receive from all over the US and Canada. Last year we received so many exceptional essays that we had to add an additional category and increase the number of prizes awarded.
Early in the judging process, we noticed that a number of outstanding essays were submitted by one particular teacher: Beth Einhorn, a teacher at Sigel St. Michael in the Diocese of Springfield, IL, whose essay contestants are pictured above. We reached out to Beth to thank her for her commitment to teaching students to be evangelizers of the culture of life, and she shared her philosophy with us.
Beth teaches English and language arts in grades 5-8. Her passion for teaching, coupled with her 12 years of teaching experience, give her the tools to not only inspire students, but to drive them to think and make a positive impact on the world around them. She is “completely passionate about teaching teens how to build their own unique relationships with God,” and part of that is helping them to know the value of all human beings. She laments that kids “have grown up in a culture where life is not valued” and states that “we must empower our kids at an early age and give them the encouragement to have a voice to stand up for their beliefs.”
Beth believes in a direct approach with her students. She says, “It is not enough to simply tell them that abortion is wrong. Teenagers need to know why God’s people are against the act of abortion.”
So last year, school officials made the decision to incorporate lessons on morals and values—including abortion—into 7th and 8th grade religion classes. The results have been phenomenal. According to Beth, “Our students have rallied for pro-life rights, prayed intentions for the unborn during Mass, raised funds to help send a Stork Mobile to New York, and written letters to government officials speaking out against their laws for abortion. Our teachings have created pro-life advocates who already know and understand, at the ages of 12-14, that they have the power to help the unborn.”
While acknowledging that it can be difficult for teachers to find the time to incorporate new material into their fully-packed schedules, Beth insists that teaching pro-life values must be a priority, with time dedicated to teaching from and discussing pro-life materials such as those provided by CLSP. At St. Michael, pro-life instruction is part of daily religion classes. “We focus on having the kids own their religion. This often includes the Works of Mercy and following their beliefs through the several stages of life. With any open opportunity, we discuss our faith and the importance of the lives that God creates.”
In addition, Beth looks for opportunities to weave in pro-life lessons across the curriculum. “While discussing the Holocaust, my 6th grade students and I had a 20-minute conversation about the comparisons of the Holocaust to modern day abortion laws. It can be brought into nearly every aspect of teaching, and a small seed planted will begin to grow in time. During English class last year, I had my students write letters to our local government officials, expressing their grief for the pro-choice laws they had passed.”
The Pro-Life Essay Contest was a natural fit for Beth’s students. They shared personal stories that were important to them, sparking classroom conversations. “The contest forced them to dig deep into those values that we had been instilling into them and use them with purpose. The essay contest opened up a whole new level of their relationships with God, based on their beliefs.”
Understanding that parents are the primary educators of their children, Beth encourages her students’ parents to become involved and to share in imparting pro-life values. “We have had parents help make baked goods to raise money for a Stork Mobile, parents who are willing and ready to drive to pro-life rallies, parents who create fundraisers to help us raise money for the cause, and parents who took their teens to see the movie Unplanned. . . . When kids see their parents fighting for what is right, they easily see themselves becoming involved. Something as simple as praying for the unborn at the dinner table or during Mass can create an impact and have lasting effects.”
To parents or teachers who feel uncomfortable discussing abortion with teens, Beth says:
Get involved and don’t be afraid to explain what abortion is. . . . Every teen should feel comfortable talking about these things, and more importantly, to realize how to fight for what is right. . . . You have to be the one to open up the conversation. . . . It is time that we start to raise up a new generation—a generation that recognizes and appreciates the worth of the lives that our Lord creates.
That this is already happening in Beth’s classroom is evident. “When my kids voice their opinions and beliefs against abortion, they have the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within them,” she says proudly.
Beth uses Culture of Life Studies Program materials in her classroom, finding them especially useful in showing a personal view of abortion and how its effects resonate throughout families. “Abortion affects the entire family unit, not just the unborn,” she explains. “The Margaret Sanger materials are a great jump-off point for teaching about abortion. The lesson allows the kids to see how Planned Parenthood was created and why it was started. The students can look at abortion from a fresh perspective when they are asked, according to Margaret’s criteria, if they would be ‘fit’ to live.”
Dedicated teachers like Beth Einhorn are vital to both children and their parents—and her work is invaluable. Because of her passion for pro-life education, Beth is directly impacting the culture every single day by making a difference in the lives of her students and helping them understand the dignity and value inherent in every single human being.
Are you interested in bringing pro-life education to your school? Please contact our director of outreach, Mary Flores, at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you build a culture of life in your school.